By Viansa Reid, Editor-in-Chief
The Diversity and Equity Club (DEC) focuses on helping students feel accepted at Summit, emphasizing the importance of including people of all backgrounds and identities. Because Bend is predominantly white, it can be difficult for people of color to feel welcome, the DEC reasoned.
“I think [the club] has become more of a comfortable place for people to just hang out, even if every meeting isn’t too much planning,” said senior and board member Lindsey Ramirez. “It’s become more of a friend group instead of, you know, your regular structured club, which is nice because with the issues that we talked about, it’s easier to talk about it as a group of friends.”
DEC pulls from a diverse group of Summit students, including: choir, band and theater members; athletes; student council members.
“We think it’s important that we have representatives from all corners of our school, so that we can better implement changes in our school in a meaningful way,” said senior and board member Jacob Zhao. “The more we understand our school, the better we can impact it and that starts with diversifying our club.”
Originally named the Multicultural Club, the name changed to better express the type of group members welcome in the club, meaning everyone can participate.
“We know that as we come together we all have something to teach each other, and the name changed in order to kind of advertise that this is a club for everybody,” said Julie Montoya, spanish teacher and club supervisor. “There are many people who are not sure if they’re multicultural or not, of course everyone has a culture, but we wanted all students to see a title that would draw them in, so the name changed in order to better reflect the intentions and goals of the club.”
This year, the club is prioritizing inclusivity, hoping that their members can help others in Summit feel accepted among their peers.
“Our focus and goals are to help everyone feel more safe and supported at school and to highlight diversity so that students who are a minority can feel seen,” said senior and board member Hannah Song.
DEC is now focusing more on celebrating diversity and culture rather than volunteering since volunteering has proven difficult during the pandemic. To engage with students online, the club created a TikTok challenge to showcase individual identity.
“For me, I changed into my volleyball clothes so I could showcase the fact that I’m a volleyball player but other people might change into an aspect of their parents’ culture or a country they originate from,” said junior and club member Katy Klein.
As for action items, the club plans to host a diversity food drive in February, the idea being to stock food banks as well as providing bags of food for FAN (Family Access Network) with culturally thoughtful meals and ingredients.
“If we have families of Chinese, Korean, Salvadoran or Mexican background, donating a jar of peanut butter or a bag of pasta may not necessarily fit with the home cooking or nutrition that other families prefer,” Montoya said. “And so we are hoping to collect more of a variety of food items that could help stock some of our local pantries in that way.”
These events focus on showcasing different cultures, helping create equity within Summit so that students of different backgrounds are more comfortable in school settings.
“As we understand equity in society as well as in a school community we’re looking at how everyone, individuals or groups of people, don’t always need the same exact thing or the same exact opportunity or support,” Montoya said. “Rather, each individual and group may need something unique or specific to them. And so equity is about making sure that all of our groups and individuals have an opportunity to feel that they are a part of a community, that they all have a voice and their intersectionality is recognized and supported.”
To help generate equity for students of color, students and faculty need to learn that people’s backgrounds aren’t necessarily the same for everyone.
“To bring the school together through the idea that everyone is an individual, and that it’s okay to showcase who you are, we need to be able to see and learn about other people and who they are on a deeper level than just the surface rather than what is often displayed at school,” Klein said. “So a big focus for us is showcasing identity and creating equity within the school system.”
DEC’s focus to create equity within Summit and make sure that people feel comfortable being who they are became more important this year, especially given the recent social justice protests here in Bend and throughout the US.
“I think right now, acknowledging other people’s backgrounds is huge because if you don’t acknowledge the culture and backgrounds that people have come from, then we’re never going to be able to see eye to eye, resulting in things like our political crises, racism, etcetera,” Klein said. “Whether you are an African American, a Latinx person, an LGBTQ plus person; anyone, no matter who you are, our club’s focus is to make sure that people feel comfortable with who they are so they don’t have to hide it anymore.”