The Rise of Inclusivity at South: Diversity Club

Official Logo of Souths Diversity Club

Abigail Stocker

Official Logo of South’s Diversity Club

Kim Goldman, Co Editor in Chief

Recent social movements have made it clear that a number of people in our world today are seeking reform—and seeking it now. From the Black Lives Matter movement hitting its recent peak in 2020 to the spread of awareness of discrimination against other groups shared on social media every day, these calls for action are abundant. Still, this constant spread of negative news makes it easier than ever to become outraged by social injustice. At the same time, this can induce feelings of helplessness for most of us, due to frustration caused by our general lack of power to make direct changes in the world around us. What can we students do to make our voices heard? 

Middletown South’s Diversity Club is committed to providing its members with a safe space to learn about and express their opinions regarding today’s current events. Started in the middle of the 2019-2020 school year, this club is currently advised by Mrs. Velasquez, Ms. D’Urso, and Ms. Callahan, with the help of a board of student leaders. 

Diversity Club meetings differ in content every week, though the structure remains the same. When asked to describe a typical meeting in the club, senior member Caroline Cinque describes her experience as, “Everyone chats in the beginning, we go over the ‘agenda’ (usually not strictly adhered to), and then we launch into an activity of some sort, usually involving discussion about an abstract topic in breakout rooms or as a large group.” These discussions are often based around broad ideas prevalent in our current society, including freedom, equality, and more. Though the directors of the club aim to make each meeting last about one hour, this timeline is often tough to adhere to. President Andrea Lopez commented that members are often so engaged in the conversation that they stay late to wrap up the discussion, including that, “Sometimes the conversation can even last for two hours past the scheduled end time of the meeting!”

One thing apparent about the members of Diversity Club is that the conversations that go on within the meeting linger with them long after the call is over. Since each meeting brings to the table a new thought-provoking idea, these meetings are very memorable and serve as learning experiences, in addition to being a place to express opinions. When asked to recall their favorite memory from the club, Andrea, Caroline, and senior member Franny Stix all had very interesting, yet distinct, stories to share. 

Andrea recalled a meeting in which members were broken up into four groups, based on grade level, to have smaller discussions.  “The purpose of this was to encourage some of the shier, quieter members to participate,” Andrea explained. “This was successful and it made me so proud to hear the voices and see the faces of some of the people who usually did not participate much beyond active listening.” 

In turn, Caroline reminisced about a time when everyone’s anxiety was running high: election week. “In not too many words, we all admitted to feeling very stressed out about the results of the upcoming election in addition to any anxiety surrounding Covid,” she noted. Caroline went on to explain Ms. Callahan’s relaxation technique: “She suggested finding something square-shaped in the room you were in and tracing its edges with your eyes a couple of times to ground yourself in the moment.” With everybody taking simultaneous deep breaths, she remembered the feelings of connectedness between members that she experienced through completing this practice.  

Senior Franny Stix mentioned an activity in which club members were prompted to create and discuss personal definitions of human rights before comparing them to UNESCO’s definition of the term. Franny enjoyed this exercise for its thought-provoking backing: “It was very interesting and very eye-opening to see underlying bias in such a simple definition and concept.” 

These Diversity Club members hold the club in very high regard. Franny also describes the club as “a safe and inclusive space for all members of the school community regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or ability.” In addition to functioning as a safe space, Caroline emphasizes the learning aspect of the club, indicating that unlike other clubs at South, there is much to be learned within a Diversity Club meeting by simply being present and listening. Those interested in the opportunity to discuss real-world issues in a judgment-free environment should consider joining Diversity Club to see all that it has to offer.