Diversity Alliance thrives during pandemic

Ryan Ngo ’21 (left) and Quinn Luong ’22 lead a recent Chit, Chat, & hew session – Nachikethan Srinivasan ’21

There’s a raging bull in the school crashing through every club and extracurricular. That bull is COVID-19. Due to the virus, student clubs have dwindled and fractured. This is not their fault; the circumstances are just working against them. Despite this, one club has not only persevered through the virus but is in fact thriving: The Diversity Alliance.

     Fifth Form Diversity Alliance Co-Chair Quinn Luong said, “[We have] adapted the best out of all the organizations of Haverford.” 

The club has been making tremendous jumps this year toward making Haverford a better and safer place for all, and their effort is truly commendable.

     The club has been making tremendous jumps this year toward making Haverford a better and safer place for all, and its effort is truly commendable.

     Last year, the club was understaffed and perhaps underappreciated. “[Most meetings were] doubling as social gatherings,” Sixth Former Nachikethan Srinivasan said. This struggle only intensified when the pandemic began in March and the world went under. 

     Meetings that once only had a few students dwindled further. After the summer, when the whole world was reminded how important diversity, equity, inclusion work was, interest rebounded. 

     The death of George Floyd opened the world’s eyes to why organizations like the Diversity Alliance matter. In addition to this movement spurred by the death of George Floyd, COVID-19 caused a lot of racism itself, with people calling it the “Kung-flu” and the ‘”China Virus.” 

     In a time like this, the Diversity Alliance realized that, as Fourth Former Vice-Chair Roch Parayre said, “DEI issues don’t just stop because the world shuts down.” 

Diversity Alliance Leaders – Russell Yoh ’24

     With this momentum, alongside a well-placed meeting during Third Form orientation, the new school year drove a boom for the Diversity Alliance among concerned students—and the leaders took advantage of it. They were ready to make the next school year more effective than the last and truly make a difference, no matter what COVID-19 had to say about it. 

     The Diversity Alliance leaders made a new plan for the school year. This plan was much more virtual based, embracing the socially distant aspects of the lockdown. The group advertised in-person meetings online and observed precautions every step of the way.

     “[We] only ever met before school . . . socially distancing, wearing masks, and taking all the precautions,” Sixth Former and Diversity Alliance leader Ryan Ngo said. “[We] didn’t really have that many in-person events.”  

     They put time and effort into their Instagram account (@the_diversity_alliance), creating a branch of the Diversity Alliance entirely dedicated to educating the student body and beyond through posts on various DEI topics. At the time of writing this article, the account has almost 400 followers, 27 posts, and over 3,000 likes.

     They’re making a documentary based on their journey, a piece of media intended to work virtually during this pandemic. 

     And finally, they’ve recently booted up their new website. They intend to make more virtual media not just to rally Haverford, but to encourage students nationwide. Their new initiative is called the National Diversity Coalition (NDC), currently made up of over 35 student leaders from 10 different states. 

     Luong and his team have tamed the bull for their own gain. It’s a revolutionary type of club, and it’s allowing them to do even more revolutionary things.

     Luong said, “[We have] had far more attendance because of the fact [that we are] virtual.”

     Their many school-wide discussions of various issues are unprecedented, allowing kids to express themselves and process these historic times.

     Third Form Diversity Alliance member Christopher Schwarting said, “[They] unite diversity workers and people who are passionate about this topic . . . in both our community at The Haverford School and out to communities across the nation.”

“What we do here is important and more people need to understand that.”

Roch Parayre ’23

     This couldn’t have happened unless they had embraced and adapted to the virtual space. It is common now for some advisories to turn on their weekly Chit-Chat & Chew and school-wide discussions during lunch.

     None of this wouldn’t have been possible without Diversity Alliance leaders, who worked tirelessly. Co-chairs Quinn Luong and Ryan Ngo and Vice-Chairs Nachikethan Srinivasan, Roch Pararye, and A.J. Sanford were all instrumental. 

     “What we do here is important,” Parayre said, “and more people need to understand that.”