CYSO Introduces Promises & Requests to Increase Accountability and Build Community


When writing CYSO’s Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion statement, the question the team heard repeatedly was “What does this look like at CYSO?” In response, we created “CYSO Promises and Requests” as one way we’re answering that question. Our EDI statement outlines why we work for equity, diversity, and inclusion, and these Promises & Requests are one way we’re sharing what we intend to do about it.

We first introduced the Promises & Requests in our student antiracism/anti-bias sessions with New Roots in December 2020

The Promises & Requests are guidelines for our community—standards against which we can measure our actions. As one Symphony Orchestra student put it, “The point is to have metrics by which to judge the progress and our actions.”

When students reviewed the lists of what we promised from ourselves as CYSO staff and what we were requesting of students, many noted that the actions felt pretty familiar. One Concert Orchestra student nots that, “We’ve been doing it already” and added that “it’s still nice to have it written down so that we can keep each other accountable.” Another added, “[As] others have already said, they’re the bare minimum, and we can all strive to meet those expectations of one another.” And that’s the point—these Promises & Requests are a foundation our community can build on to continue creating the strong relationships that make CYSO such a special place.

CYSO Promises & Requests

 

CYSO’s Promises

CYSO promises to prioritize community.
We recognize our students’ role as current and future leaders of the music community. We will model healthy group expectations, equipping students to show respect and cooperation in their own musical communities and the wider world.

CYSO promises to hold each student to the same achievement standards and provide equitable support for each student to rise to those standards.
We know our students have worked hard to get into CYSO. Being a member of this organization takes dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice. Every person in CYSO is capable of their own personal greatness – CYSO will work to meet your unique needs so that nothing holds you back from going as far as you want to go.

CYSO promises to make space for brave conversations.
 We know it takes courage to ask for help, and it can be hard to point out problems. We promise that you will always have the time and space you need to have brave conversations with CYSO staff and faculty members.

CYSO promises to stand by our statement of solidarity.
As musicians, we value perseverance. We don’t give up and walk away when things get challenging or frustrating. We’ve committed to standing with students and community members, and we mean it. We won’t back away from our promises.

CYSO promises to keep practicing.
We are all a work in progress. Just like we practice our instruments every day, we will continue practicing equity and inclusion. We know we will make mistakes, and we promise to keep trying. We won’t walk away from difficult conversations.

CYSO promises to provide representation and inspiration.
CYSO refuses to limit your dreams. We promise to show you the incredible diversity that exists within musical excellence. We hope it inspires you in your own unique journey. 

 

CYSO’s Requests

We ask CYSO students to speak up.
We rely on you to let us know when something doesn’t feel right. If you feel that discrimination or inequity is occurring, name it. We can only address problems if we can talk about them first.

We ask CYSO students to respectfully speak & listen.
Consider this before you speak: Is what you’re about to say true for you? Does it contribute to the conversation? Is it considerate? Whatever you say, we ask that you try to say it kindly. When someone else is speaking, we ask you to practice listening to understand, not to respond. 

We ask CYSO students to engage in conversations that allow the group to reflect and learn.
Learning new skills, both musical and interpersonal, can sometimes feel uncomfortable. We all make mistakes, and we ask that you be willing to apologize for yours and forgive others for theirs. We invite you to use questions & “I” statements, refrain from accusations, and assume that other learners have good intentions.

We ask CYSO students to call upon authority (Parents, Instructors, Staff) to help them navigate the conversation & empower them in the space.
We understand that you may not always feel like you know the right thing to do or say. We encourage you to lean on a trusted adult’s wisdom to help you move through unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. Include your adults in the conversation, and ask for the tools you need to advocate for yourself.

We ask CYSO students to create a respectful space.
You share responsibility for your learning environment with CYSO. We ask you to work with your conductor and peers to make an ensemble agreement with your orchestra that outlines your in-rehearsal expectations.

We ask CYSO students to talk to us, even if they’re not sure what they’re trying to say.
You don’t need to be sure what you’re feeling to talk to us – even “something isn’t right” is enough to start the conversation. We ask you to trust CYSO staff and faculty with your thoughts, even if we need to figure out what you’re saying together.

Screenshot from Concert Orchestra rehearsal when students rewrote and revised the Promises & Requests to make them more specific to CYSO. Staff, faculty, and students had direct input into this process.


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