UK Markets close in 2 hrs 19 mins

Ritzy Prep School Head on Leave After ‘1619 Project’ Debacle

·2-min read
Arturo Holmes/Getty
Arturo Holmes/Getty

The head of a ritzy New England boarding school is taking a leave of absence, following backlash over a decision to block The New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones from speaking on campus.

Hannah-Jones, founder of the Times1619 Project, had been invited to speak to students during a planned diversity symposium next winter. But the head of school, David Beare, allegedly intervened, fearing her presence would create too much “noise,” according to the excerpt of an email Hannah-Jones posted to her Twitter account.

The decision sparked outcry from alumni, while current students staged a walkout. Close to 100 faculty members reportedly wrote a letter of protest as well.

In a note addressed to the Middlesex community on Thursday, which The Daily Beast obtained, Beare wrote that he believed a leave of absence “serves the best interest of the students and the School. Thank you to everyone in the School community who has reached out to me and my family during this challenging time.”

Alums Pissed After Ritzy Prep School Disinvites 1619 Writer

In a separate note sent late last week, and jointly signed by Beare and the president of the board of trustees, Stephen Lari, the pair apologized for what they called a “profoundly wrong” decision.

“We deeply regret it and have had many gut-wrenching conversations within our community regarding the decision, how it was made, and the disrespect we showed Professor Hannah-Jones,” they added.

The board of trustees stated that the entire group had not been consulted on the matter in advance.

In yet another letter sent on Thursday, the board announced that Middlesex’ assistant head of school, Karlyn McNall, would assume Beare’s role on an interim basis.

They also announced an independent review “to determine the facts and draw the necessary lessons” from last week’s debacle.

During the fallout, Middlesex had been criticized for its apparent hypocrisy. Less than two weeks ago, it had published an open letter espousing its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and citing the importance of the “open exchange of viewpoints.”

The board sought to address that dissonance on Thursday, writing that “this experience has only reinforced the need for thoughtful discussions… With the help of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and the school’s leadership, we can emerge from this moment as a stronger, more unified, and more thoughtful and sensitive community.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!

Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting