Diversity Alliance plants national initiative through new website

The Diversity Alliance website – courtesy of Quinn Luong ’22

With the entrance of the new year, the Diversity Alliance has seized an opportunity to enhance its impact in pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in school spaces. In a recent effort to expand the organization’s influence to a larger population of student activists and leaders in DEI work, the Diversity Alliance released its new website at the beginning of this month.

     The main purpose for creating a website, according to Diversity Alliance leadership, is to expand the Diversity Alliance’s scope of action to a broader audience and body of leaders.

     “The goal through the website is to make the Haverford School Diversity Alliance more accessible to people outside of Haverford,” Fourth Form Diversity Alliance Vice-Chair Roch Parayre said. “A lot of schools do not have opportunities such as the Diversity Alliance, and I think it is really important for other people to have this option.”

     Built upon the Diversity Alliance’s current work, the motive for developing such a site stems largely from a necessity for different leaders from schools across the country to have access to an active platform. Many of those looking for such a platform are active in conferences, such as the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).

National Diversity Coalition – courtesy of The Diversity Alliance

     Fifth Form Diversity Alliance Co-Chair Quinn Luong said, “It may appear just to be a website, but it’s also an avenue for other schools nationwide to join and be active. Many from SDLC felt like [the conference] was the only one they could go to, and it is only once a year. We want to make the website accessible for people to be able to get help from the [Diversity Alliance] in order to elevate their platform by collaborating with us. Our impact doesn’t just have to be here.”

     The new website is not only to serve leaders from schools with well-established DEI programs. As Luong is quick to add, the online network will also be able to cultivate action within the realms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in spaces where such programs are limited or non-existent. 

     “It’s really hard to start from absolutely nothing,” Luong said. “If you have no Diversity Alliance, or no DEI official or other teachers in your school, it can be hard. I think it’s really important that [the website] is the resource in which we can help others draft a petition and answer their questions, and how to vocalize and spread their message in an efficient and effective way.”

     To facilitate collaboration, leadership, and sharing through a broadened association, the Diversity Alliance has launched initiatives through its digitized webspace. Most notably, the newly established National Diversity Coalition (NDC), which provides coordinated alignment with other institutions in DEI efforts, has started to receive ambassador applications from school students and leaders across the nation.

Diversity Alliance leaders, Nachikethan Srinivasan ’21, Quinn Luong ’22, Roch Parayre ’23 – Russell Yoh ’24

     These ambassadors are to represent their school in learning, engaging, and working in the context of DEI issues that face schools across the country. With nearly forty submitted applications within one week of launching, the coalition has started with momentum, setting the stage for the difference it hopes to push for in the coming year.

     “The National Diversity Coalition is so important because it sets forth the ability to promote big change, and that is why I am so glad that over thirty-five people have signed up from fifteen different states—and that’s only on our release day. I think the NDC has already started making an impact,” Luong said. 

     Of the many students and leaders nationwide who have already expressed their interest in the NDC, many have shared a common goal in working towards raising voices and engaging with DEI problems that face schools.

     “I joined [the NDC] because there are not enough voices encouraging minority students to embrace and explore their identities,” wrote Agnes Irwin School senior Olivia Peng, a recently inducted Ambassador to the NDC. “Through the coalition, I hope to see a more diverse representation and allies within our school communities because, without support, the mission of DEI only brushes the surface for change within our behavior, education, and relationships.” 

     From the first development of the NDC, the Diversity Alliance has held three ambitious objectives in mind: to congregate, to educate, and to collaborate.

     “One of the main goals with launching the NDC is to host a National Diversity Conference, either annually or biannually, and this would hopefully allow students from across the country to gather. It is also supposed to serve as another opportunity for people to educate themselves and to have the availability to learn a lot about the DEI issues that are going on today,” Parayre said. “The [third] target is to collaborate with other schools on [the Diversity Alliance’s] Chit-Chat & Chews, which are less formal.”

     Along with these goals for the NDC, the Diversity Alliance plans to use its new website to provide a formal introduction to its work and what the organization stands for. The past year has seen a revolution in the fight for social justice and racial equity, and the extensive action taking place in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the alliance mirrors this widespread cause.

     “The basis for the website is to have a concrete display for highlighting who we [the Diversity Alliance] are, what we do, who is a part of this, and what our goals are pertaining to the school environment and beyond,” Sixth Form Diversity Alliance Vice-Chair Nachikethan Srinivasan said. “The Diversity Alliance is a group that was created within and for the Haverford School. We, as an organization, want to be able to contribute to the national conversation, and we want to provide a platform for others to contribute to that conversation too.”

National Diversity Coalition – courtesy of The Diversity Alliance

     Feedback to the release of the Diversity Alliance and National Diversity Coalition website has been overwhelmingly positive.

     “In terms of responses from other people with the website specifically, I think that the response overall has been pretty good,” Parayre said.

     He was also quick to mention, however, that the historical development of the Diversity Alliance and its respective bodies have received pushback from the community.

     “If we talk about the Diversity Alliance from where it started, we have had a lot of negative feedback and people who take our leadership for granted, and I think that is one of the reasons why we [the Diversity Alliance] wanted to start this website too. Those negative responses and that negative energy incite us to push harder for change because we recognize that such sentiments contribute to the problem,” Parayre said. “There are many who do not seem to understand why we do the work that we do, and I am hopeful this new platform can help in altering that understanding.”

     While the impact for a national community of DEI leaders is clear, the image of how the new Diversity Alliance website and NDC organization can directly benefit the Haverford community still remains unclear. Despite this, there is optimism that the new platform will bring diverse perspectives and reignite action.

     “I believe that having the NDC is going to provide a new world of opinions, thoughts, and ideas,” Parayre shared. “I think ideas found elsewhere can be directly brought back to Haverford, and that can be huge within the Haverford community. I just think it’s really important to have diverse perspectives because Haverford—while it has a huge community aspect—is slightly close-minded from a lot of places around the country, and I think that having those other opinions is going to be hugely influential.”

     Furthermore, Luong expressed that the website has drawn new student populations from Haverford to have an interest in DEI work with the Diversity Alliance.

     “I have seen fellow peers from Haverford who I would never have thought to have expressed interest in diversity work reach out to me,” Luong said. “I become surprised every time I see a new person because they see [the Diversity Alliance’s work] and really want to participate, but they haven’t had any voice or any platform to speak about [DEI topics] before.”