We at the Network for Social Justice understand the intensity of emotions evoked by the School Committee vote on Tuesday evening to discontinue the use of the Sachem mascot.
There are youth and adults on both sides who feel strongly about their perspectives. While the differences appear stark right now, we believe that there are underlying values of loyalty, comradery, and community which are shared by everyone who is part of this conversation. The School Committee meeting was characterized by an environment of civil discourse. Since then, however, a hurtful dynamic has developed that includes harassment and aggressive language directed at students.
The Network encourages inclusive dialogue about the mascot and the process of change. Respect and inclusion are core principles on which we were founded. We believe that there is no place in ongoing discussions for attacks or aggressive language. Cyberbullying and internet stalking aimed to intimidate anyone have no place in this community and will not be tolerated.
Because of the nature of some of the messages that were sent, we have reported recent incidents to the Winchester Public Schools and will continue to keep them informed. We urge all community members, parents, students, alumni and staff, to commit to refraining from personal attacks and aggressive statements on social media, a platform which by its nature does not facilitate true listening and dialogue.
We supported mascot change to facilitate Winchester moving forward as a community grounded in respect for all; now we must all redouble our efforts to re-establish a climate of respect and safety as we embark on this process.