On Air Manager
"Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together". Jacqueline Woodson
Bullis as a community is extremely diverse in many aspects, whether that is race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other identities. If you ask people on campus their view of the Bullis population, they will most likely say that Bullis is very diverse, which it is. Yet, they are not aware of diversity to its greater extents. Diversity does not just include race, gender, and sexual orientation, but rather encompasses things as far reaching as whether you wear glasses or not.
I believe that Bullis does not tackle the issue of diversity in an appropriate manner and has to change such policies to better support the individuals who comprise our school that feel left out as a result of mental, verbal, or physical attacks.
Currently, Bullis tackles the issue of diversity through clubs (such as the Gay Straight Alliance and Diversity Awareness at Bullis), speakers, summits (GSA Summit), as well as discussions in advisory. Bullis also made diversity one of its Core Values and installed institutionalized resources, such as our school counselor, to help anyone who feels ostracized by the Bullis community because of their different identities. In addition, societal norms such as Black History Month, are used to create a forum for the celebration of diversity and acceptance.
Yet, even with all of these things in place, Bullis does not do much to actually change the perception of diversity on campus. Rather they do such things to then be able to say that we DO tackle diversity as a student’s body. Since care is not placed in making such activities, the root cause of the lack of understanding on how diversity affects our community can be seen.
A student on campus was interviewed on the topic of diversity at Bullis. This student was named Jared. Jared was asked the question, “Do you feel that Bullis as an institution does enough to tackle the issue of diversity, and what more can they do to tackle this issue?” Jared responded by saying, “I think the best action could be taken within the administration. Right now the big positions within our administration… are [held by] white heterosexual men… Conversationally, Bullis tries hard to push diversity, but it feels as if they are doing it for appearances and [not] because they feel … passionate about [it].”
This brings up one of the major faults in the way Bullis handles diversity, it is externally focused, so that anyone from the outside community looking in sees a group of harmonious Blacks and Whites who participate in GSA and bring in speakers to talk about diversity and then go home and sing Kumbaya. Rather, the school should be more worried about the internal influences its actions make on the everyday lives of students who feel excluded from activities based on their identities. Jared was a part of an organization on campus that did not make him feel welcome, even though that organization was supposed to support his minority within the community. This just shows the extent to which the clubs on campus are actually being effective in solving the issue of making students feel safe.
The biggest problem with diversity on campus is still the bad perception diversity gets when brought up in the school community. If we could create a society where diversity is both understood and accepted, then things such as the boring assemblies on Martin Luther King every year or diversity workshops would not be necessary, as that kind of knowledge only gets you so far. We need to start off the pathway to this goal by growing the representation of all identities in all activities. Once all voices are heard in all forums, only then can clubs begin addressing how to change the perception of diversity in the Bullis community. What these current clubs do not understand is that spending a lot of money to bring in accomplished speakers and forcing students to listen to them only disengages the student body even further and, as a result, they gain nothing from such experiences. Students need to want to learn about diversity or else they will never open their minds up to such a topic.
One way to make students want to learn about diversity is to talk openly at advisory or in other organized forums about current issues affecting different individual’s communities, as when the situation in Ferguson occurred, we did not talk about it much and we went on as a naive community. Yet, if we opened up dialogue, we could have come to conclusions that policies at Bullis need to be changed in order to foster a more stereotype understanding student body. The major thing students need to understand when using the open dialogue approach, is that you need to be comfortable to get uncomfortable. What is meant by that, is that if during the course of conversation, someone makes a negative comment, rather than getting upset, talk to them about why what they said was wrong and then you will both learn from the experience.
In response to the question of “do you think minorities are attacked (mentally, verbally, physically) at Bullis?” Jacob Fishman (’16) stated, “Maybe a little bit, but mostly in a joking manner. No one does it to intentionally offend anyone.” Although, it is not intentional to offend people, it does, as with the case of Jared.
In conclusion, make sure that you realize that the safety of our community is based on the actions of the individuals that comprise it. It is important to understand this and take action against people who try and bring down the diverse structure of students we have on campus.