Many Derryfield students are eager for a venue to explore issues of diversity and social justice, and a vehicle to create real change in the School and beyond. Because of this energy and enthusiasm, Derryfield’s Upper School EQUITY club is enjoying unprecedented success. The club, which expanded the scope of the former Gender Equity (GEQual) Club, has rededicated itself to promoting discourse on intersectional issues, incorporating race, gender, sexuality, religion, able-bodiedness, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other areas where inequity is a fact of American life.
“We wanted to become a more inclusive space for all students, and we wanted them to be eager and willing to listen and contribute, even if their experiences were different from other students,” said co-director Ruthie Zolla ’21. “The first step is speaking about the hard and taboo things that generations before us did not discuss.”
For several years the club has hosted a statewide equity conference; hosting speakers like Eric Barthold of Man Up Open Up, who present ideas that challenge students, families, and other attendees to think critically about how to create a culture of equity in our school community. In one of the very last on-campus events before the COVID-19 imposed shutdown, 2020’s Equity Conference hosted self-advocacy expert and personal coach Skyler McCurine of Le Red Balloon.
With interest in EQUITY at an all-time high, the club has recently formed a Gender Equity Committee and a Racial Equity Committee and has plans for each group to hold a separate conference on campus.
Josue Perez ‘23 joined the Racial Equity Committee. “It is very important for me, as a person of color, to talk about issues that affect me a lot,” he explained. “The Racial Equity Conference is also an opportunity for me and other members of the committee to talk about issues, such as racial discrimination, lack of representation, and disadvantages, that affect us, to our classmates.”
Senior Ruthie Zolla believes the club will help empower the next wave of Derryfield community activists to put words into action, and implement new policies that further an equitable and inclusive school agenda. For her part Zolla is crafting a clause for the student handbook, defining, explaining, and regulating racist behavior. “That is the legacy I hope to leave so that every student of color feels more protected by our school's constitution, and so that racism is explicitly denounced in our school's values.”