Staff Ed: TPHS’ poorly executed Diversity Week shows lack of student effort

There is no doubt that diversity is an essential aspect of an inclusive educational environment — and that it is crucial for schools to promote diversity of all kinds, which includes both understanding and inclusion. However, the execution of TPHS 2024 Diversity Week fell short of the mark, revealing the lack of recognition, effort and general regard for the event. 

This began with scanty promotion of the event. The clearest evidence of this is that many students were not aware of the week-long event. It seems that the greatest effort made by the TPHS ASB –– that was in charge of planning and executing the event –– amounted to painting a few signs and hanging them in a single hallway. The signs, and the event by extension, felt more like the result of a sense of obligation than a genuine desire to connect the TPHS community and facilitate learning about varying cultures. In addition, a prevailing lack of widespread activism, communication and student engagement raises large questions about a collective agreement to embrace diversity at TPHS. 

But more than just general lack of school enthusiasm, key factors that may have contributed to the underwhelming outcome of Diversity Week are the organizational issues. Tasked with executing Diversity Week, along with numerous other events, ASB seemed to struggle to provide the necessary care and effort in planning the event. Student programming included a short “Q&A” segment during Student Connection time, during which ASB students asked the same questions to multicultural clubs on campus — questions like “What is diversity?” and “What does diversity mean to you?” Instead of delving into the specifics of the diversity clubs at TPHS, the Q&A felt more like another check on some Diversity Week to-do list. 

To ensure the success of future Diversity Weeks, an alternate approach could entrust responsibility for the project to a group or program more suitable to promoting the value  of student diversity and inclusion, rather than a group primarily focused on planning social events, like ASB. By doing this, we can guarantee a more impactful, respectful and thoughtful celebration of diversity, instead of what felt like, at times, a half-done try at inclusivity. 

Giving planning and executing duties to empowered, dedicated students with a genuine passion for the idea that cultural diversity enriches every environment in which it exists would provide TPHS with a more engaging and meaningful experience in diversity education, not to mention get the student body more involved activities.

Perhaps most responsible for the letdown of Diversity Week was the simply horrible timing of the event. Lunch periods were the dedicated times for multiple key events throughout the week; during one, around 20 clubs set up tables as less than 100 students milled about the quad. Our student leaders and administration know most students go off-campus during the lunch period, yet organizers ignored this. 

The notable shortcomings of the event not only highlight the lack of commitment to diversity education and training at TPHS, but also expose the lack of effort we as a student body make to learn about the value of diverse contributions to our learning environment. From a lack of promotion to limited time allocation, TPHS Diversity Week’s execution and organization demonstrated a huge deficiency in effort and care for its student body.

In order to truly honor the diverse nature of our student body, it’s crucial for the timing and placement of the event to be more carefully considered. A more direct and effective way to get students involved on campus might be instead to plan an entire day on a weekend dedicated to student engagement with the numerous cultures on campus, or plan mandatory outings from class to listen to guest speakers. 

TPHS has the potential to grow into a model for celebrating diversity; but nothing will change if we do not address our shortcomings as a school.

By addressing the many deficiencies of this year’s Diversity Week — and by recognizing our responsibility as a student body to show up for our peers — TPHS can become a more inclusive and engaged community.

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