Diversity has been a continued topic of conversation at Collegiate over the past few years. According to Director of Lower School Admissions John Wilson, students of color make up 23.3% of the Lower School, 18.3% of the Middle School, and 19.1% of the Upper School (in the 2017-2018 school year). With little representation in student government positions and even less in the faculty, some African American students felt that they had less of a say in things at school.
Issues such as representation are often the topic of conversation at meetings of Mosaic, an Upper School student group dedicated to “making Collegiate a more knowledgeable, safe and inclusive community by promoting diversity.” Mosaic is a student diversity and inclusion group at Collegiate created for students of all racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to meet and discuss topics related to diversity. Over the past year, Mosaic has begun to create student resource groups to help specific groups of students to promote inclusion: PRISM and a yet-unnamed African American resource group.
PRISM was the first of these student resource groups created by Mosaic. PRISM was founded by Avery Freeman (’18) last year to help students who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community at school feel more included. The group has since helped LGBTQ+ students feel more welcome at school and will continue participation in awareness days such as the National Day of Silence. Freeman, also a member of the resource group, believes that the groups would make a “strong team when it comes to standing up for the rights up for LGBTQ+ and African American rights.” Freeman believes that, “with older, less diverse grades… inclusion is the issue that needs to be addressed. Many members of minority groups, especially in the Upper School, still feel like outsiders and that they are treated differently.”
The newly-created African American student resource group is the second of these groups created by Mosaic. Last year two faculty members, Director of Global Engagement and Inclusion Erica Coffey, and Upper School Counselor & Associate Director of College Counseling Liz Jackson, helped organize a student resource group for African American students at school to voice concerns and talk about African American life at Collegiate.
Azzuri Fleming (’19) was one of the students who helped bring this to life. Fleming said she and “13 students, only girls, met with school administrators to talk about their experiences and what it is like to be African American students at Collegiate.” The result of that conversation was an African American student resource group. According to Fleming, it is meant to be a “place for [African Americans] to get get together and talk about issues that relate to us and feel comfortable being us.”
PRISM and the new African American student resource group are the first groups under Mosaic to be directed towards specific groups of people. The latter plans to build stronger ties with the black community at Collegiate and be a part of Mosaic’s efforts to educate the school on topics related to race and diversity. Fleming says that student resource group is hoping to reach out to African American students in the Middle and Lower Schools. The group is a place for all African American students to feel comfortable and voice concerns about life both at Collegiate and in the greater community.