Action Independent group rises to monitor school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Action Independent team in a recent virtual meeting – courtesy of Kethan Srinivasan ’21

In light of recent events resulting in mass social unrest across much of the United States, students across the Main Line have taken to social media in a similar spirit. Numerous accounts have sprung up and published anonymous stories, containing varying degrees of prejudicial behavior. Within just a few months, the account “Black Main Line Speaks” had gained nearly 25,000 followers.

     The posts go into brief, explicit detail, chronicling encounters with students, faculty, and college counselors. 

     The following statement was released by Head of School Dr. John Nagl, remarking on the “unsettling” experiences raised online. 

      “The dialogues in which the school has engaged, the programming we have created, the professional development we have completed—they are only a start,” Dr. Nagl said. “Addressing our nation’s systemic inequality requires examining our own history: creating an America that provides justice and liberty for all requires listening to experiences of racism that have taken place on our campus and in our homes.”

     One group seeks to hold that statement to account and more. Members of various Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unions across various Main Line’s independent schools congregated this August for an inaugural meeting in an effort to brainstorm plans that hold administrators accountable on their promises. The group, called Action Independent, was founded by seniors Finn Seifert and Morgan Ellison-Jones, Co-Heads of the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council

     “Action Independent is a collective of students from PWIs [predominantly white institutions] looking to tackle the biases and prejudices in our schools,” Seifert explained. “In our first meeting, we talked about a few things, including a class that one student was taking that wasn’t approaching the subject of poverty productively, how to ensure inclusion work is reaching all students.”

     Haverford’s own Diversity Alliance is a constituent member of the newborn coalition. Sixth Former Ryan Ngo, who serves as co-chair, hopes to utilize the group meetings to highlight flawed community aspects within the classroom, especially pertaining to the upper school curriculum. 

     Ngo believes the curriculum must be inspected and revamped in a manner that ensures students “are educated on minority culture and achievements, rather than solely the dark history of oppression, which victimizes/delegitimizes these groups.” 

     This extends to the post-admissions period for incoming students, as well.

     “Additionally, we are seeking to establish year-round student mentorship groups for incoming students to support them in adjusting to the school curriculum and culture,” Ngo said.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director Mr. Brendon Jobs believes in the cause for Action Independent, saying that there is much potential for the group to guide the course of communal unity. 

“It is more important now than ever before to create a safe and connected community in light of the very apparent racial reckoning the U.S is going through.”

Finn SEifert, SCHA ’21

     Mr. Jobs said, “As schools determine how to heal community divisions and broaden the curricular frames and teaching models students experience, creating spaces where students can share their lived experiences and inform the work feels vitally important.” 

    Seifert agreed with this prospectus on the coalition. 

     “We believe it is more important now than ever before to create a safe and connected community in light of the very apparent racial reckoning the U.S is going through,” Seifert said.

Author: Nachikethan Srinivasan '21

Nachikethan Srinivasan ‘21 is the current Arts Editor for the Index and a student in the Journalism seminar. He is a believer in the importance of the press and its ability to not just inform, but to enlighten others about topics unknown to others. Srinivasan also serves on the editing staff for the school literary magazine, Pegasus. Outside of writing, he is the current Vice-Chair of the Diversity Alliance, Co-Head of the Pan-Asian Alliance, and member of the Notables.