New Mandate an Unfortunate Turn of Events


Photo by Mark A. Foushi

A meeting of the Safe Place club prior to a new directive to remove identity-based flags and banners in classrooms.

By Chelsea Small, Spartan Staff


Senior Spartan Star Staff Writer Chelsea Small has her own take on the recent changes in school policy when it comes to the removal of flags and banners in the classroom. 

Going to Marian Catholic for these past four years, I have realized more about the outside world and how it operates than I have in my other 14 years of living. While there are definitely some positives that the school has made me look forward to when I’m out in the world on my own, including how it has set me in the position for success, there have been so many situations that have made me open my eyes to how unfair and unwelcoming the world can be. The most recent issue has really put staff and students in a frenzy, and I definitely have a few things to say about it. 

This particular situation happens to be in the hands of the President of the school this time around, which to me is quite unusual. There haven’t been many issues large enough or serious enough for the President to get visibly involved. He has made the decision to ban all representation of any particular group, movement, race, organization, or political perspective. This includes flags, posters, banners, etc. that have been hung in rooms of the school by faculty members. The flags removed in particular that have caused an uproar amongst students are Black Lives Matter banners, Pride LGBTQia+ flags, Pro-Life posters, and Blue Lives Matter banners. Being a part of the Black community, this felt like a personal blow. Granted, to attend Marian Catholic High School, with it being private, Catholic, and exclusive, is a choice but I feel that regardless of the environment, there is no need to give a sense of exclusion to any particular individual or group. Obviously, the new rule was appalling to me, so I had no choice but to gather more information on the reasoning behind it from the direct source, Mr. Krydynski. 

I can definitely say that since freshman year, I have always felt the classrooms have always had some type of support presented, but I can’t express one time it noticeably made anyone uncomfortable or unsafe. Everywhere you go, there has always been representation of a variety of groups that all have both similar and different histories of feeling unsupported. When taking these representations down after being up for so long, how these groups know or feel that they are supported or accepted when they walk into a room. The story would be different if these things weren’t up to begin with, but to take them down sends a very discouraging message to these students, and my graduating class has been very vocal about their disagreement with the new mandate. For example, theology teacher, Mr. Kopycinski, has kept a flag representing the Pride movement and those that are a part of LGBTQia+ to send a message that his room is a “safe place” that welcomes them, hence the reason his room is named “Safe Place” for the community period club. Now, that flag has been taken down. 

What does Kopycinski think about the mandate?

“I think that the whole thing has become very sad. It was a surprise to me,” 

Kopycinski said.

 “As far as I knew, the bosses knew what was going on. [President] Vince [Krydynski] was in my room last year,” Kopycinski said.  “What a shame!”

Aside from the actual mandate itself, after paying attention and doing research on when this mandate came about, I happen to find much irony in the fact that it occurred after the school sent many senior English and history classes on a field trip to see Red Summer, a play that discussed the history of how horribly Black people were treated back in 1919. This play also reviewed how people of color still are dealing with similar feelings of exclusion today. Soon after learning how deep and detrimental the history is and its significance, a mandate that, amongst others, to remove Black Lives Matter banners from classrooms. In 2022, just like 1919, Black lives again seem not to matter. 

Krydynski generally has stated that safety is what matters at Marian. 

Krydynski said his job is to “protect the welfare” of everyone in Marian and to make sure the school is an inclusive environment for all students. The word used to describe his desire for the feeling in each and every classroom is “neutral” which is honestly understandable. 

I can agree with his perspective towards the idea of all inclusivity, I just believe there might have been a different way to go about putting this to action. 

Yes, it is understood that no one is forced to attend this school, with it being both a Catholic and private school, and that the choice to go here is completely their own, but that does not give any excuse on why the students that do choose to attend the school, should feel they are either shamed or excluded within the walls of the schools. These are words that students have claimed to feel, each whom’s wish is to be left anonymous for this particular article. I believe if a sense of support cannot come from Marian Catholic as an institution, then students who should feel offended by other things, events, actions, or activities should also have free will to express that (in the proper way of course). 

In the past, students have been consequently threatened for planning to protest ideas and situations both portrayed and ignored by the school. Students have expressed discomfort with having to stand and pledge to a flag that does not carry the same representation to everyone. If flags, banners, and posters of representation carry different meanings across people, or are viewed differently by each individual, making them “non-inclusive”, and for such have to be taken down, why should students be forced to stand, recite, and represent a flag that too does not carry a completely general meaning to all members of the school? 

I fear that this mandate is only the beginning of a shift in the wrong direction. I believe that more of these mandates will be added into the Marian Catholic Handbook, as the diversity of the school’s population gradually increases every year, with minorities accounting for the majority of students. 

The way this mandate came to be – and the quickness at which it has been applied – has alarmed students around the school. 

There have been very important situations where students feel that regardless of who they brought it to, they were ignored and there were no proper resolutions given towards their situations, or if there were, they weren’t resolutions that made students feel comfortable or safe the way the school says they prioritize it to be. To provide an example, last year there was an incident where a male student allegedly assaulted and harassed another female student, both of whom will remain anonymous. This female student brought this situation to authorities, as well as had other adults report it, and the way it was resolved was not pleasing. The female student who made the accusation no longer attends Marian Catholic, but her alleged perpetrator is still a Spartan. The situation, as some seniors, juniors and sophomores might remember, was the subject of an “odd” late afternoon announcement. 

Obviously, there might be an understandable reason why the student is no longer at Marian. Feeling targeted, feeling like your voice is being ignored, feeling as if your identity is being taken down in the name of “neutrality” can make a student want to attend somewhere more welcoming.

Of course, should the way we treat each other be a higher priority than what flags and banners are placed on classroom walls?

If the purpose of the new mandate is to create a “safe” environment, what is the danger: Conversation? Civil discourse?

Is the priority to be “safe” from Black Lives Matter banners and Pride flags over feeling safe from people who place us in physically and emotionally uncomfortable situations?

I cannot completely speak on the resolution as it would only be based on assumptions. After all, I am just a senior, not the school president. What I can say is that there is an obvious sense of what is prioritized, and what is important enough to have a mandate put in front of it.