By Gabriella Gruber, Online Shadow Editor
// In any school, discussions about equity are crucial to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students. This past week, Acalanes High School Leadership’s Diversity Board held the first of many discussions on equity.
The Diversity Board held its first Equity Council meeting on Aug. 20 at lunch to start an open conversation about equity for all students who attended.
The meeting established the objectives of the Equity Council, which will continue to develop as the year goes on.
“The main goal of the August meeting was to serve as a precursor to what’s to come this year. We hope to bridge into a deeper conversation as we navigate through the rest of the year,” Diversity Board member and junior Owen Salmon said.
This was one of the first discussions about equity since last year’s academy cohort meetings.
“The main goal was to see where we started in our equity work and how we can improve on last year. Although we made some significant strides last year, we still have a lot to improve upon,” Co-Head of the Diversity Board and senior Sally Sheehan said.
The meeting began with the question: “What does equity mean to you?” and later developed into a brainstorming session of what students believed was successful and unsuccessful about how Acalanes previously taught equity on campus.
During the brainstorm, several students presented their ideas on how the community could better foster equity on campus. In particular, many students brought up the topic of ableism.
“One thing I notice is when we’re talking about diversity and equity on campus, we talk about racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, and religious tolerance as a ‘yeah we’ve covered all the bases’ sort of way, but we completely ignore and disregard the prevalent ableism on campus,” junior Skylar Thomas said.
The meeting closed with an activity about how individuals can improve the environments around them. The patterns of change consisted of three levels: change within oneself, change within one’s friend group, and changes within one’s community.
The meeting was well-received by attendees, who found it refreshing and productive despite the time constraints.
“I thought it was very productive and I appreciated everyone who spoke. I enjoyed everything that was acknowledged that usually isn’t on campus,” junior Olivia Banks said.
The Diversity Board hopes to continue seeing large turnouts at the rest of the Equity Council meetings.
“[We hope to] bring awareness to certain topics that may not be discussed in other parts of the school … [and we] were very excited to see so many people come and be part of the conversation,” Salmon said.
As the meetings continue each month, the intensity of the discussions will deepen, along with the importance of the message the Diversity Board intends to spread.
“Wherever students are in their journey with equity, the important part is to try. Recognize your own internal biases, call out your friends for bigotry, and challenge yourself to join conversations that may feel uncomfortable. Being an active ally takes work, but it is incredibly important,” Sheehan said.