In August of 2020, the Dean of Student Life and Leadership invited a group of students who showed interest in creating positive change at Collingwood School in regards to equity, diversity and inclusion to a casual but indeed uncomfortable conversation on EDI at our School.
Sophia Garofalo (‘21), Ash Alguneh (‘21), Jodie Shin (‘21), Jessica Zhang (‘22), Angela Zhu (‘22), and Devina Briggs Hammoud (‘22) continued the conversation beyond this initial meeting and unofficially formed the EDI student committee with the help of their teacher, Charly Pimentel.
Our committee created a mandate focussing on how we can make sustainable change in our School community’s attitude, knowledge and action regarding equity, diversity and inclusion. Our focus has been racism and anti-racism but we are branching out to learn about oppression in all forms, including sexism, ableism, and homophobia.
We’ve been passionate about learning with one another and anyone else willing to learn with us. We are also passionate about making political and structural change within our School with EDI in mind. Our group has discussed at length that we see change happening through two ways—culture and policy. By focusing on EDI education we believe we can change the culture of the School. But we also need to work on changing the policies, practices, and structures of our community.
A few initiatives our EDI committee has created are “Conversations on Race” or “Courageous Conversations” where we host circle discussions after school, open to anyone in the community. So far our conversations have included conversations with both the senior girls and senior boys basketball teams, debate club, house captains, and the general community. Our group has also initiated the “Really” Campaign—a strategy to respond to discrimination and microaggressions—and created Flex programming for “Black Shirt Day” in January, conducted a survey/reflection on race and racism, that 493 community members participated in.
In the Spring, we produced a video entitled “Get Uncomfortable and Join the Conversation” and encouraged everyone to take a pledge to fight oppression. Most recently, the EDI student committee launched “Walk-in Wednesdays”, a safe space for anyone to drop in with any questions, concerns, ideas, or experiences they want to share. We invite people to share their questions, concerns, or ideas using our “drop box” which exists online and physically (in the library). “Get Uncomfortable and Join the Conversation!”