NEW: Head of Moses Brown Responds to Controversy Surrounding Soccer Coach Taking Knee

Friday, October 06, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

MB Head of School Matt Glendinning
The head of Moses Brown School in Providence responded Thursday to the controversy following the school's soccer coach announcing he was taking a knee during the national anthem on Saturday. 

"In his letter to parents, the coach clearly explained that his decision was a personal one and that it had a single purpose - to protest racial injustice in America. Unfortunately, many interpreted his kneeling differently: as an overt political act, a protest against the President, or a sign of disrespect to the military," said Head of School Matt Glendinning in a letter sent Thursday. (See more below).

As GoLocal reported, Moses Brown Boy's Varsity Soccer Coach Eric Aaronian announced that he would kneel during the national anthem at Saturday's game versus Westerly High School, in an email sent to parents on Friday. 

Aaronian is also the chair of the Science Department Chair at the prep school located on Providence's East Side, where tuition for the day school is $35,555 for grades 9-12.

See that Email HERE

The story, which sparked discussion and debate, received hundreds of comments on social media.  

Moses Brown Responds

In a letter sent to the Moses Brown community on Thursday, Glendinning stated the following: 

"I’d like to clarify the school's position on this matter. In his letter to parents, the coach clearly explained that his decision was a personal one and that it had a single purpose - to protest racial injustice in America. Unfortunately, many interpreted his kneeling differently: as an overt political act, a protest against the President, or a sign of disrespect to the military.

Such divergent opinions reflect the complex reality of life in America. We know that the vitality of our society is made possible by the unique blessings and freedom of living in the United States. At the same time, we know that racial injustice is still pernicious and pervasive more than two hundred years after the founding of our nation.

Understanding that reality, we need to honor the perspectives of all who care deeply for MB. To that end, I want to be clear in stating my belief that people who work at Moses Brown should not use their position for advancing a particular political agenda within the school. To those who saw our coach’s action in that light, I want to apologize, especially to those who have served in the military and may have seen this act as a sign of disrespect to their service. 

At the same time, I want to be clear that as a Quaker school Moses Brown will always forcefully align itself with the board humanitarian principles of equality, inclusivity, and respect for all. Hatred and the denial of racial injustice in our country have no place at Moses Brown. These principles are central to our mission, separate from politics. 

Statements that uphold the dignity and worth of fellow students, teachers, families, and citizens are welcome in our school; overt statements for or against politicians or political parties are not. In the case of our coach, I believe that he met these standards by making his intent clear, and moving ahead, we will apply this same test in assessing this or similar forms of protest. 

At Moses Brown, our goal is to help students develop their passions and identity, to form their own understanding of the world, and to have the courage to stand up for what they feel is right. Part of the way we do that is by modeling and engaging students in meaningful dialogue about difficult subjects.  Last week, for example, eighth-graders had a wide-ranging debate about kneeling during the anthem, and this week many advisors and classes in the Upper School are doing the same. 

I believe there is important learning and healing to be discovered in that kind of dialogue, if we can be patient and courageous enough to listen to each other. Its only through open and honest exchange of ideas that we can maintain a community were are people feel valued and respected."

Editor's Note:  Glendinning noted in his letter to the community that Aaronian's original message, which was sent from Moses Brown and signed as a Moses Brown Department Head, was posted "without seeking his consent or comment." It is GoLocal's position that both Aaronian's original email of explanation and the action itself were in the public domain, and not incumbent on the press to seek further clarification. This story was originally published at 6:00 PM on Thursday, October 5, 2017.

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