By Zoe Cate, Staff Writer
// The Acalanes Diversity Board helps start a dialogue about issues of equity and diversity at Acalanes.
Compassion. Acceptance. Respect. Equity. These are all important aspects of a school environment, and the Acalanes Diversity Board spearheaded Care Week Dec. 4-8 to address these.
Care Week was composed of activities focused on diversity and equity followed by two days of workshops. These workshops were student-run and gave students the opportunity to learn about the issues of equity that face campus.
The Diversity Board created this week in order to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity on our campus and spread awareness about issues of equity that students at Acalanes experience.
Diversity Board member Mila Mathias expresses her opinion on the importance of this week.
“Many Acalanes students might not be aware of the diversity that we do have at our school. Even though many believe that Acalanes is not diverse as a whole, it’s important to appreciate the variety of students that do exist at our campus,” Mathias said.
Leadership teacher Katherine Walton shares similar aspirations for Care Week.
“I think that at the very least it started a conversation and gave topics for students to consider, and my hope is those conversations will happen on a regular basis which will ultimately lead to a safer, stronger school culture here.”
In the past, freshmen and sophomores were the only students participating in the workshops, whereas juniors and seniors obtained similar knowledge but through a speaker. This year, the Diversity Board decided to make some changes.
“We had a speaker for our juniors and seniors and the Diversity Board and Leadership really felt like they wanted to do a workshop for everyone and so that was a big change,” Walton said.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were given the opportunity to become care leaders or one of the students tasked with running the workshops.
For junior Jonathan Le, becoming a care leader meant getting the chance to share his personal story but for sophomore Camryn Langley becoming a care leader meant she could gain involvement in issues that are important to her.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for me to become more involved in the issues that I care about and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity,” Langley said.
In Langley’s opinion, care leaders possess a lot of influence over their peers.
“Once you teach people, they have all the ability to take action,” Langley said.
Langley is not the only student who believes that education is the first step to change. Mathias presumes that inequity stems from a lack of awareness.
“I feel like a big issue that often causes students to say things that are offensive is a lack of awareness,” Mathias said. “Students don’t understand fully what they’re saying, and that ends up being offensive and they don’t realize it.”
Senior Kate Minden described her last Care Week as, “eye-opening” and “informative.” Whereas Freshmen Ethan Walker felt very differently.
“They didn’t address a lot of problems and no one really listened because they were student-led,” Walker said.
Senior Megan Cardiff enjoyed Care Week but felt as though it didn’t make as much of a difference as intended.
“Honestly, I think that care week is a great idea, and I think that the Diversity Board puts a tremendous amount of hard work into it which I appreciate so much,” Cardiff said. “However, my classes don’t seem to be engaged in the workshops, and I don’t see a change on campus after Care Week. I think bringing attention to how everyone has a different story is amazing and a great idea, but I just don’t see that it has impacted our campus.”
Although Walton would like to believe that the workshops are the end all be all of issues of equity at Acalanes, she acknowledges that there is a long road ahead.
“Issues of equity never really go away. This is continuing work and it’s hard work and so it’s never finished,” Walton said. “The workshops are not gonna solve the issue, but at least it kicks off dialogue with the students.”