Decatur high school starts first student equity team

Graphic included on student equity team flyer sent out by DHS Principal Rochelle Loftstrand

Graphic included on student equity team flyer sent out by DHS Principal Rochelle Loftstrand

Kara Diamond

Decatur High School (DHS) recently created its first-ever student equity team, offering a chance for students to voice their opinions on complex topics regarding race, sex, and other issues concerning the school that a typical adult-run equity team would address. This opportunity was first offered to DHS students at the class assemblies regarding recent racial incidents at the school, and immediately after the assembly a number of students expressed interest and joined. This new equity team was created to shine a light on the young voices that have been missing in terms of creating equity at DHS. Meetings occur every Wednesday and Friday in both the mornings and afternoons, and anyone who would like to attend is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinions. 

“I would argue the reason we have failed at Decatur High School is that we’re actually not listening to students, or we’re listening, but then not doing what they’re actually wanting us to do or meeting those needs,” said Jenifer Gonzalez, a member of the adult equity team at DHS and a supervisor of the student team.

Adult supervision of the student equity team is not to interfere with the ideas of students, but to aid students with resources and offer support so that the students can then take action. “What we want to do is empower students to not just talk and be ignored, but rather actually make those changes,” said Gonzalez. 

Topics discussed inside the meetings often end with ideas of potential ways to move forward. While some solutions are attainable for the students to enact themselves, some are demands from teachers and administrators and would require big changes within our school. One of the ideas the team has already come up with is creating a WIN time where students can come and talk about equity and their experience with equity within DHS.

Going forward, Gonzalez hopes the student and adult equity teams can work with each other to solve solutions from different angles, saying, “What we want is two parallel programs both working towards the same goal and interacting.”