Rio Equity Team: Long-Awaited Solution to Issues on Campus?

Jaiden Crabtree, Mirada Staff

The equity team has been officially formed in response to issues in previous years.  Preparation and planning occurred over the summer and the team was officially put into effect on the date of the first meeting, September 14. But what exactly is the Rio Equity Team, what is its long-term goal, and why haven’t people heard about it? 

With the team being newly formed this past summer and emails being sent out in late July to all members, there hasn’t been much outside discussion regarding what the team is or what the team is planning to accomplish. This isn’t the first time an equity team has been brought up amongst administrators.

“I think it’s just been an ongoing idea that has been put forth to kind of get the communication between the administration, community, and students. Mainly student-driven.” Vice Principal Robert Kerr said. Like many other events, the equity team was delayed due to COVID-19. Now that the team has been made and the first meeting has taken place, members express their feelings about the formation of a new team on campus.

“I’m excited. I think any successful change has to come from the ground up, and the students are the ones who have their feet on the ground.” Said Jason Korich, a history teacher and member of the team.

Something everyone seems to agree with is that the Equity Team is meant to be an avenue for students, parents, and staff to express their opinions and help to make equitable changes on campus. There is one phrase that seems to be mentioned multiple times though; Student voices.

“I think that the students are the most important piece simply because this is your school,” Said Alluria Smith, a facutly member and part of the Equity Team. “I work here, but this is your school; this is the time for you and your peers to have a say in how you’re treated by staff and other people.”

But with the new creation of the team comes questions about how students and parents feel, how they hope to play a part in this, and what change would look like to them on campus. One parent mentioned what change would hopefully look like.

“I would like to see the administration, teachers, staff, and coaches all educated in how they can help make the school a safe place,” said Alexa Bluth, a parent of a student. “And also how they can teach and do their jobs in a way that addresses the needs of all students and not just some of the students.”

The importance of the team to every individual will look different. To Bluth, the importance of the team to her is the safety aspect. Having an equity team on campus means making the learning environment safer for her child and their peers. To Smith, it’s important to look at the student body through an equitable lens and come up with solutions for issues on campus that work for us as a whole instead of using solutions that work for others but might not work for Rio. 

 Senior Naomi Piper-Pell had this to stay about the importance of the team to them;

When I first heard the idea I was not super excited because it seemed reactionary, but the school seems really invested in it this time which is encouraging,” Said Piper-Pell in regards to how they felt when the team was announced. “It is very important to me that we address the root causes of homophobia, racism, antisemitism, and other forms of hate at Rio, and I think a student-led panel is the best way to do that since no one knows the culture better than students.

While not much is yet known about the Equity Team since it is in its early stages of planning, members of staff that are aware of it are excited for the improvements that will be made. Many are looking forward to new updates and solutions to inequitable issues on campus. 

“I haven’t yet heard very much about the Equity Team,” French teacher Jennifer Montas said. “But it sounds like a wonderful idea and I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements that will be made here at Rio Americano for our students and staff.”

The equity website for the team is up and running and will have updates plus meeting dates on that website; https://www.sanjuan.edu/domain/9520.

 

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