- UNIS Executive Board
- United States of America
**SEPTEMBER 20th UPDATE** Ana, Khemet, and I have emailed the letter and the petition link to the UNIS Executive Board. Keep signing to show support!!
Executive Director Brenner:
We are writing to you as UNIS alumni to express our disapproval of your or any other member of the executive board’s decision to have ten Junior School students pose with the First Lady, Melania Trump, for a photo op at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, September 23rd, 2019.
In your letter to the UNIS community you wrote that, “debate and dialogue are fundamental to the (UN’s) core mission.” Your decision to include UNIS in this controversial event has shown us that you do not respect the values of the UN community, values that we learned at school and have continued to practice long after graduating. As students, we’re always told that we were ambassadors for our entire community--the UNIS community and our home communities--and that we should act accordingly. You have opted the whole UNIS community into standing with Melania Trump without asking for input on the matter. You have sent the message that UNIS is willing to stand with those who would debate and debase our humanity, and who believe that we are not good enough, American enough, rich enough, white enough, man enough to be a full part of the world.
You can quote the mission statement verbatim all you like, but that does not indicate that you truly comprehend the words that you have memorized for public speaking events, nor understand what sending ten primary school students for a photo op with the First Lady does for her husband’s administration. UNIS’ participation in this event will not make ours a better world; it will not open dialogue with the Trump administration to promote the values of the UN community. What it will do is provide “evidence” that the Trump Administration is committed to the ideals espoused by the UN community such as dialogue, tolerance, and developing communal consensus to improve the world’s problems. Anyone aware of US and international politics in the last several years, as well as Trump’s entire professional career, knows that this is not the case.
Failure to realize what this photo-op represents demonstrates an astonishing lack of awareness of how the Trump administration has pursued values antithetical to those of the UN community including but not limited to: anti-blackness, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, climate denial, misogyny, child incarceration, and violations of international law.
We strongly condemn this choice.
Additional Testimony and Letters:
Dear Dr. Brenner,
I am writing as an alumnus of UNIS to express my disapproval of your (and anyone else’s) decision to have ten Junior School students pose with the First Lady, Melania Trump, for a photo op at the Stock Exchange.
During my time at UNIS, I struggled with my sexuality. While I love my alma mater, I can admit that it wasn’t the best environment for LGBTQ youth. This past June I attended my 10-year UNIS reunion. When I walked through the doors and saw rainbow pride flags, I was overwhelmed with joy. It may have been 10 years too late for me, but in that moment, I felt like I could finally be my true self in the place that I spent a large portion of my life in. Though I am not a member of the transgender community, it was also great to see gender neutral bathrooms and know that kids dealing with gender identity and sexuality issues no longer had to hide who they were. To me, UNIS looked like the better world that we want to create. For some strange reason you find it appropriate to have children pose as props for an administration which has called transgender people “burdens” and encouraged discrimination of all in the LGBTQ community on the grounds of “religious liberty.” UNIS is a community of many faiths, but at no time during my education has UNIS found it acceptable to discriminate against another person because it was permitted by their religion. How are you encouraging dialogue and debate on this issue when the other side wants nothing more than to knowingly strip LGBTQ people of human rights?
One of my favorite things about attending UNIS was the international education that I received both in and out of the classroom. In T2 (10th grade) I remember learning about the Haitian Revolution. Most children in the world, let alone the United States, do not have the privilege of learning in school about the birth of the world’s first Black republic, how it influenced the subsequent anti-colonial revolutions in Latin America, and its place in history as one of the few successful slave revolts that was inspired by the enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century. You however want students to attend a Trump photo op. Need I remind you that Donald Trump called Haiti a “shithole country.” How is that not antithetical to what is taught at UNIS?
In your letter to the UNIS community you wrote that, “debate and dialogue are fundamental to the (UN’s) core mission.” This is true, but it strikes me as curious that you would open a dialogue with an administration that has been grossly self-absorbed and undiplomatic at best. This situation reminds me of another piece of history that I learned at UNIS. In order to avoid war with Germany, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain decided to open a dialogue with Adolf Hitler. That dialogue in Munich resulted in the European powers appeasing Hitler by allowing him to take the Sudetenland in exchange for ceasing the expansion of Germany. I think we all know how events transpired after that. While the photo op with the First Lady does not present the same urgency of averting international conflict, it does underline the same spirit of the Munich Agreement. This is merely a publicity stunt to use UNIS students as political props and have the Trump administration appear more humane by showing the First Lady with a group of young children (especially if those children are not of European descent).
The First Lady’s appearance at the Stock Exchange just so happens to be the first day of the UN Climate Summit. How do you not see the irony in this!? The Trump administration has not only been poor (to say the least) in cooperating with other countries to tackle the existential threat of climate change, but it has made efforts to stymie any sort of internal dialogue or actions to combat climate change. What dialogue do you hope to occur from an administration that has silenced its climate scientists and believes climate change to be a Chinese hoax?
The day after election day 2016, the students, faculty, and staff were devastated. From what I have been told a large portion of the day was dedicated to providing a forum for students to express their feelings and counseling to help them cope with the realization of what had just happened the night before. Dr. Brenner, you are a psychologist by trade. Do you think that re-exposing students to trauma is good for their mental health?
This controversial event has shown me that you do not understand the values of the UN community. You can quote the mission statement verbatim all you like, but that does not indicate that you truly comprehend the words that you memorized for public speaking events. I am not sure what you intend to accomplish. If it is dialogue with the Trump Administration, then I suggest that you hire someone to run a Twitter account on behalf of the school. Sending ten primary school students for a photo op with the First Lady will not make this a better world. It will not open dialogue with the Trump administration to promote the values of the UN community. What it will do is inflate the already oversized egos and career ambitions of you and anyone else in the UNIS administration who is defending this.
I believe that you are either blissfully unaware of how the Trump administration has trampled over the values of the UN community or very conscious of the Trump administration’s track record of indifference and scrutiny of a peaceful global community. In either case, the only appropriate course of action would be your resignation.
Khemet King Calnek
United Nations International School Class of 2009
Executive Director Brenner,
My name is Anayvelyse Allen-Mossman, and I am a graduate of UNIS (2009) and a UNIS survivor (I attended UNIS for all of my elementary, middle and high schooling). I am appalled at your decision to invite Junior School students to attend the NYSE tour and bell ringing with Melania Trump, and believe that not only should you withdraw the school from this event, but resign.
As a student at UNIS I attended many public-facing events. This was a regular part of being a UNIS student. We were always told that we were ambassadors for our entire community--the UNIS community and our home communities--and that we should act accordingly. For this reason, it is beyond my imagination that in your letter yesterday (September 18, 2019), you suggested that this act of legitimizing the Trump presidency and its values--anti-blackness, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, climate denial, misogyny, plain violence and more--is something that people can opt into without carrying consequences for the rest of the community. You have opted the whole UNIS community into standing with Melania Trump without asking our input on the matter. You have sent us the message that UNIS is willing to stand with those who would debate our humanity, who believe that we are not good enough, American enough, rich enough, white enough, man enough to be a full part of the world. There is no "sharing UNIS values with the First Lady"; we have nothing in common. Why should we give our values to her as a gift? This regime has already thrown them in the trash.
That the parents and/or guardians of ninety children in J3 and J4 have agreed to using their children in this way does not make your decision any more valid.
You have already made a mockery of the school's community, values and people. Withdraw UNIS from this absurd event before it's too late, and resign while you still have the dignity.
United Nations International School Class of 2009
We, the undersigned, call on Executive Director Brenner to cancel any UNIS participation or endorsement of Melania Trump's event next week.
The Say NO to UNIS endorsing Melania Trump petition to UNIS Executive Board was written by Saman Rouhani and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.