One of New York’s most elite private schools was subjected to a revolt last year when privileged students claimed to be oppressed and victims of racism.
Christopher Rufo reported in City Journal the saga of the United Nations International School, the $44,000 dollar a year private school that teaches children of the elite how to succeed in business, finance, and technology. The Institution is thoroughly left-leaning, holding “three days of counseling” and “a series of emergency assemblies where tearful students ranted about being deported,” after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Faculty and staff also allegedly scoffed when then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley enrolled her children at UNIS.
As Rufo reported, students at the elite institution “launched an anonymous social media campaign denouncing the school’s teachers and administrators for their ‘vast history of systemic racism,’ ‘white liberal racist thinking,’ and ‘direct, intentional, repeated racial trauma.’
The campaign began when some students started an Instagram account called Black at UNIS, making dozens of vague, anonymous accusations the school itself and also specific teachers.
“The accusations ranged from ‘microaggressions’ (one teacher ‘used to mix up names of Black students’) to ‘white leadership failure,’ such as refusing to hire black teachers and ignoring the bullying of black students. The Instagram campaign demanded that the school ‘fire the racist principals,’ threatened to begin naming their ‘oppressors,’ and pledged a policy of no mercy: ‘No one is obligated to protect you from those consequences and no one is obligated to forgive you,’” Rufo reported.
Months later, the students would launch an online petition with a list of demands, claiming that “for too long, UNIS has carefully curated the illusion of itself as a multicultural utopia while Black students and other marginalized groups suffer from a culture of ignorance and isolation.”
Rufo reported that the group “demanded that the school hire a director of diversity and inclusion, institute mandatory antiracism trainings, ‘decolonize’ the curriculum, create ‘safe spaces’ for minorities, support the ‘exploration of diverse gender identities,’ reject the ‘Eurocentric focus of mainstream academia,’ and push an ‘agenda of intersectionality.’”
School administrators immediately caved to the students, without any kind of investigation into their allegations. Dan Brenner, the school’s executive director, sent an email to parents just days after the Instagram account was created saying UNIS was “committed to creating solutions to ensure an anti-racist environment.”
Within months, Brenner “hired a diversity-consulting firm to conduct antiracist trainings, created a student-led antiracist board, began overhauling the academic curriculum to reflect the new orthodoxy, and hired a full-time Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Rufo reported.
A staff member told Rufo that school was “currently in the grips of a mania,” adding that some employees “see this ‘antiracist training’ as pure indoctrination, but do not know what to do.”
As Rufo noted:
The dynamics at this bastion of elite progressivism reveal something important about the American political environment. The children of the most privileged people on the planet have donned the mantle of oppression to satisfy their moral narcissism and to exercise power over their elders. The adults, crippled with anxiety about any threat to their status, immediately bow to anonymous teenagers leading an online mob.
This is the same basic pattern now spreading through most major institutions in the country, from federal agencies to state boards of education to Fortune 500 companies. More than anything, what’s needed in America today is moral courage—precisely the virtue that has vanished from those who administer our institutions.
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