Archdiocese of Chicago High Students Collaborate and Pledge their Commitments for Racial Justice and Equity in their Schools
Chicago, (April 27, 2021) – Students from 25 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago came together to address racial inequity in response to the 2020 murder of George Floyd and its aftermath. The students and their faculty advisors, led by faculty experts from DePaul University’s College of Education faculty, presented their ideas for building racial equality along with each school’s commitment to racial justice to Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Friday, April 16 in an online forum.
“Racism is not something one is born with, it’s taught and we need to do everything possible to break that cycle and schools can be an important way to do so,” Cardinal Cupich said. “I am edified by the students’ efforts in charting a path forward to break boundaries and to open their hearts for hard conversations and healing.”
The students and faculty advisors from each participating high school, began meeting online with DePaul faculty in February to come up with solutions to problems at their respective schools with the goal of examining the social construct of racism and actively working to dismantle racism. During the meetings, each school was asked to create a vision for racial justice in their school, which then was transformed to guide individual commitments to racial justice and equity.
DePaul, which has a longstanding partnership with the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools, led the equity workshops for the students to examine racism in light of Catholic social teachings. The program developed by DePaul is RISE: Catholic Students RISE for Racial Equity. RISE stands for the process of reflection, inquiry, self-awareness, and empathy.
“The students are so insightful, and unfortunately many students have a lot of experiences from their own lives that highlight racial inequity,” said Dr. Deanna Burgess, assistant professor of counseling at DePaul. "The hope is that we can continue to foster opportunities for students to share their insights and to inform decision-making processes that impact their own educational experience."
The students will meet once more before the end of the academic year. They will regroup and meet quarterly during the next school year, in-person if COVID-19 safety protocols allow.