Upper School Student Voices—a student-leadership group that addresses topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice—explored activism in art in two Martin Luther King Jr. Day assemblies this month.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Westridge was built on a mission to provide gender equity in education. Today, we draw upon the spirit of our founder, Mary Lowther Ranney, to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on our campus. These essential components of the Westridge program are imperative to the wellness of students in underrepresented populations and central to academic excellence for all Westridge students.
We are actively working to:
- Identify and eliminate biases and gaps in our programs and policies.
- Make the programmatic changes and do the community-wide education and growth necessary to make Westridge a school where all students, families, and faculty and staff feel they belong and are affirmed, valued, and supported.
- Increase diversity of all kinds, especially racial and socioeconomic, because we know that all students benefit social emotionally and academically from learning in a more diverse environment.
DEI is one of four focus areas of our strategic plan published in January 2020, prioritizing resources of time and funding to make substantive and meaningful change at our school. Importantly, events this spring have energized many people across the generations of Westridge to join us in working for change. Recent conversations with Black members of the Westridge community have caused the School to reflect on who we have been and who we want to be moving forward. Additionally, we know our families have been impacted by anti-Asian prejudice during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that students of color, including Black and African American, Latinx, Multiracial, and Asian students, are having different experiences at Westridge. Students deserve to be in a learning environment where racism is explicitly addressed, and white students must understand their role in challenging racism and how they can be advocates for change.
Our Current Work
On November 10, 2020, we released an update on our current work in diversity, equity, inclusion and becoming an anti-racist community. The update includes anti-racist education for all community members; the establishment of a DEI oversight committee; data analysis of and changes to our program and curriculum; efforts to expand community diversity; the planned addition of full-time Director of Equity; and more. Please click below to read it in full.
Upper School Student Voices hosted their first assembly of the year last week entitled “Black at Westridge.” The assembly was a testimonial-based presentation that gave students a chance to hear from Black and African American students, alumnae, faculty, and staff about what it is like to be Black at Westridge.
On Monday, Upper School Student Voices co-heads Danielle D. ’21 and Olivia Q. ’21 hosted a panel discussion with three emerging Los Angeles civic leaders about systemic racism and racial and gender equity from their personal and professional experiences.
The October 14 Westridge Wednesday divisional assemblies were each devoted to the topic of microaggressions: What are they? What is their impact on students? What should be our commitment to interrupting microaggressions in our community?
This summer, senior Kathleen C. watched as incidents of anti-Asian racism continued to escalate following the spread of COVID-19. She formed an organization called Vocal Asians for Change — a “youth-organized movement dedicated to speaking out against racism in our communities.”
Westridge is seeking a Director of Equity to lead the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts as a member of the senior leadership team. Click below to learn more and apply!