New Diversity Day Structure Planned

“You don’t know me until you know me” is the official theme of this year’s Choate’s Diversity Day, which will occur on January 16, 2017, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Diversity Day Cabinet in the Choate Diversity Student Association (CDSA) has changed the structure of the Day in hopes of better engaging students, and it is currently in the process of training facilitators for the event.

Plans for the day are tentative. Diversity Day will be divided into two separate sessions for underclassmen and upperclassmen. The underclassmen will be learning about background topics concerning diversity, while the upperclassmen will choose to talk about topics such as stereotypes, PC culture, and privilege in smaller discussion groups. Depending on the form, students will also spend part of the day in follow-up conversations in English class about the keynote speaker.

Cabinet Co-President Larisa Owusu ’17 remarked, “We hope that we can help people engage and open up just a little bit, show some part of themselves.” Owusu is joined by Co-President Jerri Norman ’17, Officer Elena Turner ’17, Officer Danielle Young ’17, and Secretary Alexia Walker ’17.

“The success of Diversity Day is really driven by the students themselves. The faculty are really just there to support them,” Ms. Sara Boisvert, former member of the Diversity Education Committee (DEC), commented. Mr. Kojo Clarke is the faculty adviser to the CDSA and Ms. Duckett-Ireland is the current chair of the DEC.

The cabinet sent out a survey to upperclassmen to gauge their interest in various workshop topics, as well as to solicit volunteers to be facilitators. Facilitators participate in three two-hour-long training sessions during the weeks leading up to Diversity Day, promoting their role in creating engaged, safe environment and going through the myriad of activities and discussion prompts. Lucianne Manigbas ’17, a facilitator, said, “Facilitator training enlightens me to the point of Diversity Day. It really helps identify the strengths and weaknesses that there are within the program that already exists.”

The Cabinet is excited about the main speaker, who “embodies this idea of not knowing someone until you actually know them, and also the idea of celebrating identity.” Young said, “That’s the thing I’m really excited about, I don’t want to give anything away.”

The word “diversity” does not just mean racial diversity or difference in skin color, and students hope to explore this on Diversity Day. There are eight established identifiers under diversity: gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, ability, race, and ethnicity.

Norman said, “If you bring up diversity around campus, the first thing you might here is someone sighing or grumbling and saying, ‘Oh, we are talking about this again.’ We’re trying to make it so that people can enjoy talking about it and have a fun time on Diversity Day as well. We want everyone who participates in Diversity Day to have a good time, and rather than be spoken at, actually participate in activities and conversations.”

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