Last week, the Student Diversity Coalition was formally established by seniors Brian Pinkston, Dylan Williams and Natasha Yen and junior Uma Iyer. The goal of the organization is to help create a more inclusive community at Harker and provide a forum for students to discuss issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as encourage students to work toward justice for marginalized people.
After attending the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Seattle in December 2019, Iyer and Yen were inspired to draft a series of proposals for Harker administrators. They linked up with Pinkston and in July presented the proposals, one of which was the creation of the SDC.
Yen identified a course on race and society she took through the Global Online Academy (a selection of online classes offered at Harker) as key to her realization that Harker needed a way to facilitate similar conversations. “The GOA course not only consisted of students from other Bay Area schools, but also included students from across the country and world,” she said. “After having meaningful and personal conversations on the topics of race and identity with my classmates, I realized that Harker lacked a place to have these important conversations in our own community.”
Iyer, who started at Harker in grade 9, quickly realized that something was missing at her new school. “Unlike communities I was used to being a part of, Harker did not pay as much attention to DEI issues,” she said. “At first, I did not put much thought into this feeling, but when I came back from the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, I realized that Harker did not even have one student organization that focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.”
In addition to its own events, SDC will also support the work of the Gender Sexuality Alliance as well as the establishment of Harker’s Black Student Union and LatinX Affinity Group. SDC is already planning and organizing several community-wide events and activities, including a recent webinar with Christina Guzman, director of Santa Clara University’s Office for Multicultural Learning, and the placing of a land acknowledgement plaque in recognition of Indigenous American Heritage Month in November. SDC also plans to partner with Harker’s Black Student Union in February for Black History Month and put together activities in May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month.
“Besides our cultural heritage month events, the SDC will hold open meetings that allow any member of the student body to join,” said Yen. These events will include roundtable discussions on relevant topics, such as the recent wave of racial justice protests. “As the SDC establishes a presence in the community, I hope to see that it becomes woven into the fabric of what it means to be a part of the Harker community!”
Iyer noted the sense of excitement felt that the SDC had been formally established, and expressed more excitement at the prospect of working with affinity groups. “I am very excited that the SDC will be working with the affinity groups because I feel that the affinity groups were a long time coming,” she said. “Not only do they give students a safe space to confide in other students who identify with them, but it also gives students the opportunity to explore their own identity.”