San Domenico statue removal yields media mania

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Jordan Holman, News Editor

Over the summer, six statues of Catholic saints were removed from San Domenico School in an effort to be more inclusive to their student body. Following this removal, media immediately jumped on the issue, creating what Head of School Cecily Stock referred to as a “misleading, sensationalized” distribution of facts and information.

News sources such as Fox News, the Marin IJ, the National Review, and the National Catholic Register have already covered the story, some portraying this event as an untimely upset that has outraged many students and parents. According to Stock, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It is unfortunate that this conversation turned into one about statues rather than quality education and raising young people to become thoughtful human beings capable of respectful inquiry, thoughtful discourse, and striving toward social justice and a more peaceful world,” she said.

Students, parents, and staff aren’t upset about the removal of the religious statues. Rather, they are angry at the media’s portrayal of their school and its core values.

San Domenico has a 167-year-old Catholic tradition and the statues on campus reflected their religious teachings. However, in recent years, the school has felt the need to be more accepting of students from a variety of religious backgrounds. That is what prompted the statues’ removal–not recent events, as some sources have stated. Although stories of offensive statues being taken down continue to circulate the media, San Domenico denied any correlation with the events taking place in Charlottesville and other U.S. cities.

The statue removal was actually an event that had been well thought out and planned since June 2016. The process conformed to San Domenico’s new Strategic Plan (also known as SD2021).

Its intent is to “create a cohesive educational experience across all grades, inspiring families to remain at San Domenico through high school graduation.”

Parents and older students were informed of the statues’ removal, so the event did not come as a shock to the vast majority of San Domenico’s student body.

According to Mirza Khan, Director of Ethics, Philosophy, and World Religions, “One of the reasons that [parents] have chosen San Domenico is that they want their children to learn about religion and spirituality in an open and inclusive way.”

Other news outlets share interviews that express concern, when many parents are actually in agreement with the recent changes that, according to Stock, are being blown out of proportion. They are happy about the changes to their school and its effort to be more inclusive to both prospective and current students.

The Religion Department recently changed its name from Religious Studies to Ethics, Philosophy, and World Religions to do just that.

According to an interview in the Marin IJ, the school removed the word ‘Catholic’ from its mission statement and sacraments from its curriculum. Their logo was also adjusted to appear ‘less Catholic’.

However, San Domenico’s administration believes the real story lies in the media’s ability to tell the truth.

Students, parents, and staff have expressed frustration over their school’s portrayal in the media. Especially with technology’s ever-growing interference with the news, it is easy for stories to be misconstrued and facts to be distributed inaccurately.

The attention that is focused on the school’s less religious curriculum should be directed toward ensuring audiences that news information is correct, according to San Domenico administrators.

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