D&I: What Next?

Courtesy+of+Amelia+Lee+%2722

Courtesy of Amelia Lee ’22

From the Coronavirus outbreak to the Black Lives Matter protests, we have witnessed a drastic and rapid change in the political and social climate of the United States. The upcoming U.S. presidential election is yet another topic of conversation among students at Groton.  

To tackle these new or newly important subjects, our Diversity & Inclusion group (D&I) is focused on fostering discussion.  D&I is holding three community conversations facilitated by student leaders and held through dorm groupings. The first two were held on September 18 and October 23rd. 

“We want students and teachers to tell their own stories,” says Sravani Sen Das, Director of D&I, “and to create empathy by humanizing each one of us beyond stereotypical identifiers.”  In these discussions, Ms. Sen Das hopes that we, as community members, will “recognize our differences and find shared values in our difference.”

Clubs under D&I, including the Cultural Alliance (CA), Groton Feminists (GF), and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), will target more specific topics.

For the Cultural Alliance, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer creates heightened awareness of racial inequality worldwide and the United States, but especially at Groton.  “In many ways, I think this makes it easier to foster discussion amongst the student body — more people are interested in the issues at hand and are therefore more inclined to come to meetings,” said CA head Leah Pothel ‘21.  Through conversations about race and culture, the Cultural Alliance hopes to “broaden people’s perspectives and ignite change on both an individual and community level.”  

Groton Feminists has a similar goal: to encourage people to share and listen to different viewpoints.  Although the uncertainty of this new school year has made the club less structured than before, GF plans on “emphasizing the importance of intersectionality in identity and experience,” says GF head Claire Holding ‘21, “through joint meetings with other clubs.”  In order to break free from the echo chamber some may associate with the group, those students with opposing opinions must show up, and others need to welcome these views, she further emphasized.

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance wants to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ community members and allies and to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ issues.  Although Covid-19 guidelines have made it harder to schedule and organize meetings, there have still been great discussions so far, says GSA head Beatrice Agbi ‘21.  In addition to celebrating certain LGBTQ+ holidays and awareness weeks, the GSA will host meetings discussing topics including an all-gender dorm on campus, hookup culture, representation in the media (including music by LGBTQ+ artists), and love in the age of Covid-19.  “It’s much more relaxed and conversational this year, and we’re trying to uplift the community by promoting positive influence,” said GSA head Angela Wei ‘21.  

All three clubs — the Cultural Alliance, Groton Feminists, and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance — plan to expand their reach through screening insightful movies and documentaries, inviting (virtual) speakers, and holding intersectional meetings.  For example, the first Groton Feminist meeting of the year was on White feminism and the movement’s oppression of Black women, hosted jointly by Cultural Alliance and Groton Feminists. 

Above all, D&I and its clubs want teachers and students to show up and participate in their conversations. In the time of such division, community on campus grows ever more important.