Students and faculty explore meaning of privilege, participate in discussions at SDC kickoff


Sabrina Zhu

Faculty and students listen to privilege walk prompts. During the privilege walk, students and faculty took steps forward as SDC co-leaders KJ Williams (11) and Dina Ande (10) read out prompts ranging from “if your sex or race is widely represented in the U.S. Congress” to “if you had more than 20 books in your home as a child.”

by Lucy Ge, Co-Managing Editor

Over 60 students and faculty participated in a privilege walk and fishbowl discussion at the Student Diversity Coalition (SDC) open meeting kickoff on Davis Field on Tuesday.

During the privilege walk, an activity designed to highlight the role privilege plays in everyday life, students and faculty took a step forward for every prompt that applied to them. SDC co-leaders KJ Williams (11) and Dina Ande (10) read out the prompts, which ranged from “if your sex or race is widely represented in the U.S. Congress” to “if you had more than 20 books in your home as a child.” 

“A lot of the [prompts] in the privilege walk like ‘Take a step forward if you’re right handed’ was really interesting because it’s something that we don’t really think about when it comes to privilege,” Madeleine Hansen (12) said. 

In the second portion of the walk, KJ and Dina prompted participants to take one step back if statements such as “if you are ashamed or embarrassed of your code, house or car and wish to change it to avoid being judged” or “if you have ever been hesitant to speak to avoid being ridiculed because of your accent or speech impediment” applied to them. After the privilege walk, the SDC invited attendees to share their reflections on the activity. 

Felix Fu (10), one of the attendees who volunteered to speak about their thoughts in front of the other attendees, also participated in a privilege walk when they were younger. 

“It’s so weird, because so many things [have] changed since then, like my gender, my pronouns, my sexuality, all of that,” Felix said in an interview after the event. “Back then, I was probably within the front of the line. Now I’m [in] middle back. It’s such a different change, I felt like I needed to talk about it a little bit.”

During the fishbowl discussion, attendees gathered in two groups, one led by SDC co-leader Mir Bahri (11) and the other led by SDC co-leader Brooklyn Cicero (12), to discuss the topics of socioeconomic background, LGBTQ+ rights and beauty standards. Students and faculty alike shared their personal experiences surrounding these topics, and attendees related these topics back to their experiences at the upper school. 

“It just kind of took me back to some of the things I felt when I was a student on scholarship at a private school and sometimes couldn’t afford things,” upper school English teacher Dr. Beth Wahl said. “I’m aware that that’s something that happens at Harker, and I think we should talk about it more openly.”

KJ, who was pleased with the overall turnout, wishes that there could have been a longer discussion with more participant reflections on the privilege walk.  

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the same privileges that we have,” KJ said. “And there’s nothing wrong with recognizing that certain things don’t affect you, but when you recognize those things, you should also try to work to make those things better for other people.”

The SDC will host an open meeting in December and organize a Challenge Day event for underclassmen next semester.