Letter regarding the Bill Bar Decision

Avani Khorana

Two weeks ago, the Horace Mann Alumni Council announced that they would not revoke Attorney General William Barr’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement. I remember when the petition was created over the summer following the incident between Black Lives Matter protestors and Barr at Lafayette Square. As I read and learned more about Barr, I found myself both infuriated and confused. 

Barr’s career itself may be one deserving of being recognized as “distinguished,” however his actions fundamentally contradict our school’s core values. As an institution dedicated to shaping young students into model citizens, can HM really say that Attorney General Barr is a figure who we should look to as a role model? Should we do as he does? 

Life of the Mind, Mature Behavior, Mutual Respect, a Secure and Healthful Environment, and a Balance between Individual Achievement and a Caring Community; the core values of our school. Barr has a history of attacking those with whom he disagrees. This is not mature behavior nor is it mutual respect. When Barr ordered law enforcement to forcefully clear protestors from Lafayette Square, that was not creating a secure and healthful environment. And although Barr may have high individual achievement in his career, he has not used his position of power to create a caring country. 

 And lastly, “Life of the Mind” involves thoughtful reflection and the encouragement of inquiry. The Special Committee created their report without taking into account the voices of students and alumni. I know that many of us felt disregarded and I personally felt that signing and sharing the petition, and helping to educate others had little to no impact. The Alumni Council did not thoroughly investigate and try to understand the distress among students, faculty, and alumni on this topic, and their refusal to recognize the perspectives of others is in fact the opposite of life of the mind. 

I am infuriated that the council did not revoke Barr’s award, but I am also confused as to how the school could possibly believe that Barr upholds our Core Values and how they can call him a distinguished citizen and member of our community. 

We can do better. We need to do better. 

From, 

Avani Khorana ‘23