Op-Ed: Why you should go to the Diversity Conference

The+Student+Diversity+Conference+Leadership+Team+does+their+final+run+through+before+the+Diversity+Conference+alongside+some+adult+DEI+team+members.+
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Op-Ed: Why you should go to the Diversity Conference

The Student Diversity Conference Leadership Team does their final run through before the Diversity Conference alongside some adult DEI team members.

The Student Diversity Conference Leadership Team does their final run through before the Diversity Conference alongside some adult DEI team members.

Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez

The Student Diversity Conference Leadership Team does their final run through before the Diversity Conference alongside some adult DEI team members.

Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez

Photo credit: Celeste Ramirez

The Student Diversity Conference Leadership Team does their final run through before the Diversity Conference alongside some adult DEI team members.

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I’ll never forget watching “The Hate U Give” last year at the Diversity Conference. I had already seen the movie twice before, but every time hit me harder than the last. I cried during the entirety of the film. I could feel something in the room, and I hoped that something in my peers had changed.

When we split into groups to debrief afterwards, I was eager to discuss the film’s many themes: code-switching, identity, police brutality, the poverty cycle, etc. and how raw and poignant it was. However, the conversation in my group died down fairly quickly and moved on to a different topic.

I knew that everyone processes information differently, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. I was beginning to question whether the feeling hanging over the room during the screening was a good or bad thing.

That describes how I have felt about the Diversity Conference in the past few years. On one hand, I have been very excited to have conversations about topics I think about and discuss with my friends all the time. But somewhere lurks the lingering fear of being the most vulnerable in the room or not getting what I want out of the conversations.

That is why when it was announced that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team at Archer would be collaborating with an elected Student Leadership Team for the next conference, I knew that I had to be a part of it.

Working on the team this year has been everything I wanted and more. I feel like the adults really did listen to us, and not only did we learn from them, they learned from us. We dedicated so much time and energy into this event, carefully planning even the smallest details. I am really proud of what we organized, so when I started to hear the occasional, “I’m not coming to school on Diversity Day” for the fourth year in a row, it hit me differently.

This is something that I think most of us have heard. Many people on campus perceive the day as “optional” because there are no regular classes. Since there are no set repercussions for missing the conference, it can seem easy to just take the day off.

To this I say that, first of all, this is not “Diversity Day,” it is “Diversity Conference,” a formal, planned out event dedicated to not only broadening our awareness and understanding, but listening to each other. We have many students, faculty and guests that have organized a program, workshops, presentations, performances and more just for you, so you can explore new ideas and topics in a comfortable space. Since we only have one day of the year fully dedicated to this, the least we can all do is be present.

I know it may seem odd to only have this event for one day, but in my eyes, the Diversity Conference is just the setup. It is up to all of us as individuals to bring what comes out of the day to the rest of the school year. The new Archer mission statement states that, “We support girls to develop meaningful relationships in a diverse and inclusive community rooted in empathy, integrity, and responsibility.” That revision was a step in the right direction. Archer wants to make this part of our education and preparation for the outside world, but you have to be willing to learn.

I’m not trying to tell you what to think about the conference — that is up for you to decide. I’m just asking you to reevaluate some thoughts. Think about what the conference means to others and how your actions can affect them. Think about what the intention behind this event is and the impact it can have.

As a student of color, this conference is one of the most important days of the year. As a member of the student DCLT, I’ve been a part of the planning for months. Don’t skip this valuable opportunity to discuss and grow.