Distractions, excuses, and implications: where did DEI go?


Art by Krystal Nava

In this day and age, cultivating an environment promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is common sense, something that should not even have to be verbalized. But how does one repair a community that does not uphold these values, yet claims to or at least be working toward them?
The DEI initiative, first announced to the community Jan. 21, was portrayed as an initiative working to further promote values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Saint Viator community. This, then, would suggest that these values were not being held up to standards within the school environment and community. Initially, students from various grades were chosen to aid in specific training days where meetings with teachers and other staff and faculty would take place. During this day, revisions to the mission and values statement were. A survey that was sent out to members of the Saint Viator School community were also evaluated and results conveyed a lack of inclusion felt by mainly minority students. Suggestions were also made on how the Saint Viator community could take further steps to accomplish the DEI mission. After this, though, all that could really be seen was buzz about the initiative through various forms of social media and the release of a professionally shot video featuring members of administration claiming their support as well as promising change in the community. The “buzz” about the initiative being ignited through emails and social media, eventually died down and wasn’t a topic of conversation in classrooms, Querbes Hall, or anywhere else in the building.
This school year, there have been no new communicated updates with students. Students once involved in this initiative, sparked by the momentum conveyed to the community, are completely left in the dark.
Attacking an issue as deep discrimination is extremely difficult. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are topics that should be addressed with extreme caution and, understandably, change will not be immediately visible as action would trickle down from administration, staff, and faculty. While keeping these factors in mind is important, more needs to be done to meet the needs of the student body, which the DEI initiative should be serving. Small talk about new curriculum, basic exposure to other cultures, changes in the vision and values with no notice, and the creation of different DEI strands focused on different topics are appreciated baby steps but do not address the pertinent issues students are experiencing–such as discrimination.
“Part of our mission as a Viatorian school is based on caring for those counted of little importance, so we should care about inclusion of all,” said Mrs. Ann Perez, Assistant to the President for Mission.
Promoting these ideas as well as promising to “embrace people of all backgrounds,” as mentioned under “Values,” should be visible in the school community–not a false promise. The “Mission, Vision, and Values” are simply words on a page if they are not lived out. Let’s demand, execute, and initiate DEI instead of daydream about what SVHS as an institution should look like.