A hundred students and 20 to 30 members of faculty met in the auxiliary gym to participate in community developing activities on Feb. 6. The program, Challenge Day, focused on mindfulness, to address racist epithets and racially-charged comments made by Harker students.
And while Challenge Day may have served as a symbolic and positive first step, as a student body and broader school community, we cannot pretend as if a program limited in scope to 100 students will suffice to solve a pervasive issue, no matter the program’s efficacy.
That being said, mandating programs for the whole student body is simply not effective either. The success of such programs depends on the willingness of its participants, and real change cannot be feigned through coercion.
In fact, Challenge Day’s primary motto: “We must be the change that we want to see in the world,” echoes this exact sentiment. To achieve any change, we must actively choose what we want to see our surrounding world become. The issues we face are fundamentally rooted in this choice, lying in our school culture.
The change we seek as a community must begin with our exposure to a greater diversity of voices, experiences and culture. Every day should be a Challenge Day. The mindfulness and sensitivity fostered by the Challenge Day program need to be extended to our interactions with friends and strangers alike, and the first step to that type of community is a diversity of thought, race, gender, sexuality and experience that, frankly, our Harker school community lacks.
Challenge Day was the first step. Now, as an academic institution, we must build a diverse learning environment to effect any real change.