by Sahithi Devineni ’22
Published Mar. 7th, 2021
This school year, Montgomery High School launched its new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website to help focus on different aspects of promoting a better school environment.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website is what many students are calling a “good start” in the fight for social justice within the Montgomery community. However, after conducting a survey with some of the student body, it is evident there is still room for improvement.
When nine students were asked if MHS is doing enough to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion, most said no. Hithu Oleti ‘22 pointed out that “the school administration does nothing to hold students accountable” and that while they have admirably created training for teachers, “they are glossing over the fact that the issue is in the student body.”
Students don’t have very high hopes about each other, either. Michelle Ji ‘22 estimated that about half of the MHS student body “feel as if these issues won’t directly affect them and are not aware of the severity of these issues.” However, she noted that this is not reflective of the entire student body, adding that other students are aware and “doing as much as they can.”
In order to be properly educated on topics regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, students and faculty need to work together. In the survey, many students emphasized the importance of continuous education on DEI topics: they stressed that it isn’t beneficial to only discuss these issues in specific periods, referring to the surge of dialogue in the summer of 2020 and the relative dip in the following months. Instead, a common theme among students’ thoughts was that there needed to be support for at least monthly discussions to continue working for change.
But to have effective and efficient discussions about DEI issues, people need to educate themselves. In the last year, scores of book lists, documentaries, movies, and personal accounts have surfaced to help people understand the dark realities of problems like racism and discrimination.
From there, it takes initiative, perseverance, and patience to transform that knowledge into social reform. Whether that is “demanding more from administration,” “talking with individual students,” or “holding each other accountable,” MHS students showed an energetic willingness to dive into these real-world conversations.
While energy and motivation are key parts of any social movement, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to create an environment where students can talk about DEI topics without facing any negative stigma. Michelle suggested starting off by simply “talking about it more,” as even this simple step “feels very taboo right now or it feels like just a ‘trend.’”
Hithu also encouraged teachers to add to their curriculums by “educating students on actual history we don’t typically learn,” recalling that she “learned from TikTok that Rosa Parks was not the first person who refused to change her seat, but another black woman. We are not being taught true history.” She continued by asking “people with big platforms to advocate for change” and calling for the “school administration to actually take action when a student says a slur they cannot.”
It is clear that MHS has taken the first few steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done to create sustainable, lasting change.
Click here to check out MHS’s DEI website.