October 29, 2021
Working together - Equity Club member, Clair Ulm (sophomore), brainstorms ideas with fellow members Sara Borek (sophomore) and Nhi Thai (sophomore) for WHS’s third annual Passport to the Globe.
The Equity Club has experienced challenges and joys through executing its purpose to promote unity and spread awareness of social issues across Westfield schools.
The club was formed last year by club president, Sumaiyah Ryan after she and her friends realized that the minority student body shared some distressing feelings. A great number of these students expressed feeling that there wasn’t a safe space for them in school. Since the club’s beginning, Ryan and other club members have worked to change this by making Westfield an inclusive, understanding place.
“There were a lot of minority students who just did not feel like the school served them at all, or they felt there wasn’t a place for them,” Ryan said. “[I wanted to] create that space where you can be around people who get what you go through, being in a predominantly white school.”
Not only is the club a setting where kids can feel comfortable expressing their feelings. Ryan described how the club was also created to allow kids who didn’t initially understand the struggles of marginalized groups to learn more about what they can do to help. These enlightening topics led many students to join the club including sophomore Eli Marti.
“I’m very passionate about social justice and equality for everyone,” Marti said. “I’m also an LGBTQ+ student, and I wanted to meet with others who experience different types of discrimination than I do to hear their experiences and learn how to be a good ally.”
Despite these attempts Equity Club had made to spread positive messages, not everyone agrees that their viewpoints accurately give voice to ostracized students.
“There are definitely some people who don’t support the club,” Ryan said. “There are some people who have come to the club in the past to challenge our viewpoints or bring up issues that we aren’t talking about. We’ve dealt with it properly, but it does rock our safe space.”
The obstacles the club has faced have been difficult, yet the club has continued to thrive. It has become a center for cross-background discussion and trust for Westfield students in addition to becoming a prominent part of school events.
“Something I’m really proud of that we were able to do last year was our unity fair,” Ryan said. “It was an event with different booths, games, and live music. It celebrated the different cultural groups in our school and community.”
Throughout this coming year, the club plans to recreate some of its successful events as well as organize new activities and develop unifying policies. Marti detailed that the workings of the Equity Club are passed on to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team who in turn spread messages to teachers and administration members. Through this process, changes that are monumental for some students who feel unsupported are made.
“Everyone [at the Equity Club] has the same goals and beliefs as you, and you can know that they do support you,” Ryan said. “You don’t have to worry about how they’ll react or if they'll disagree with your feelings. We’re here to help.”
Minority students and allies alike can find companionship and purpose by joining the movement to create a more inclusive humanity. The Equity Club offers a way to become a part of that mission and develop a higher level of understanding and kindness towards everyone.
“We go to find people who are different from us and hear their stories,” Marti said.