Discipline Council revisits Anti-Discrimination Pledge

This November, Westminster’s Discipline Council revisited the Anti-Discrimination Pledge and introduced it to the freshman class. The student Discipline Council serves to advise and adjudicate on disciplinary violations on campus, specifically non-academic ones, and to provide helpful counsel for Westminster students in these cases. The pledge was written and published by last year’s Discipline Council in fall 2020. It reads, “On my honor, I commit to confronting racism and discrimination by working with my peers and teachers to help create a safe, supportive and respectful environment for everyone. Along with my community, I will participate in personal education that equips me with the skills to be anti-racist, and that empowers this community to be inclusive to all its members.” 

The anti-discrimination pledge originated from the council’s realization of a need for a code of community integrity similar to the honor code in the wake of the cultural turbulence surrounding racial discrimination nationwide and worldwide after the summer of 2020. 

“I want it to encourage dialogue, understanding, and a stronger sense of community between backgrounds,” said Stephen Addcox, a faculty advisor to the Discipline Council.

The pledge is not meant to be a temporary solution or response, which is why a great effort was made to readdress and examine the pledge through a video from the Discipline Council.

 “There tends to be a knee-jerk reaction after which the response usually fizzles in American corporations and society, but we really wanted to avoid that,” said Addcox.

The council aims to bring the pledge and its contents back into the conversation around race and culture and continue the pursuit of the ideals described in the pledge. Filming this year’s anti-discrimination video took multiple tries to get to a product that the council thought best represented them and the pledge. They wanted to use the video as a chance to communicate their unique interpretation of the pledge. 

“We wanted to communicate what we thought it meant to follow the anti-discrimination pledge,” said Discipline Council head prefect senior Mykah Boye. “So not only showing your commitment with actions but also showing that you’re dedicated to learning and reflecting on yourself and others by making sure that you’re holding yourself to a standard that the Westminster community believes in.”

In the video, the Discipline Council addressed the backlash they received last year and tried to make sure that people understood the true purpose of the Pledge.

“We wanted to reassert that the anti-discrimination pledge was not just a one-year thing; it’s something we intend to be a part of Westminster past even the current Discipline Council’s time attending Westminster,” said council member senior Kristina Schaufele. “Although it started last year, we want it to be a long-standing institution because combatting racism and discrimination is not a short-term thing.” 

The video was filmed twice after the council collectively agreed that their original footage and discussion focused more on vague and broad issues surrounding Westminster instead of the pledge itself, and filming again would give them a better opportunity to prompt productive dialogue.

“A lot of our questions were more focused on the Westminster community in general and the academic competition,” said Schaufele. “We strayed away from talking directly about the actual anti-discrimination pledge and more just things we thought we could improve Westminster with, and although it was an important conversation to have, the purpose of the conversation was to talk about the anti-discrimination pledge and why we thought it was important. But we decided collectively after that this is something really important to Westminster, and we should have an extra conversation about it and do it again.”

The pledge is meant to be an active component of student life and help shape personal and community standards everyone can strive for. 

“Don’t let the advisement viewing of the video be the only time you ever watch it,” said Addcox. “Revisit it and think about its importance in situations beyond mandatory advisement activities.”