The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

Diversity retreat unites DEIG-focused students and faculty from all campuses

Black Student Union in the works at conference

Intersectionality, a new Black student affinity group, and the difference between allies and were all topics of discussion during the school’s first-ever campus-wide Student Diversity Leadership Retreat, which occurred between April 28 and April 30 at the Courtyard Marriott in North Woburn. The retreat was organized by the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Global Education (DEIG) Office and was open to students and faculty who participate in DEIG groups across the school’s three campuses. A diverse set of students attended, including those who identified as Black, Asian, Latino/a/x, and white.

The objective of the first day was to create crosscampus connections between students who participate in DEIG programs, many of whom had not met one another, Program Operations Coordinator Jade DuVal said. The second day consisted of a series of workshops, and the final day was devoted to planning the launch of the Black Student Union (BSU), the school’s first affinity space dedicated solely to Black students.

The retreat was a new iteration of the Students Honoring All Differences and Embracing Similarities Retreat which had previously only been open to Upper School (US) students. The DEIG Office made this year’s retreat available to students on all three campuses.

“We wanted to get as much student participation as possible,” Ms. DuVal said.

To foster friendships, students and faculty participated in icebreaker activities on the first day, one of which had them tape the pictures of Black historical figures on their backs and then try to determine the historical figure’s identity through hints from other players.

Community Outreach and Engagement Specialist Candie Sanderson said the DEIG Office saw the retreat as an opportunity to unite DEIG-focused students across all campuses.

“As students transition from one campus to another, they will have already made connections on that other campus,” she said. “If you are the middle school practitioner, you can connect with the sixth graders who are about to come onto your campus.”

The DEIG Office hoped to connect the students around a diverse set of meals each day of the retreat, Ms. Sanderson said.

“We tried to represent a variety of different cuisines such as Pan-Asian Fusion and Soul-Barbeque,” she said. “We wanted to represent the diversity of the students that were there by bringing people together around food to experience a variety of cultures and flavors.”

Director of the Center for Pan-African Culture at Kent State University Dr. Shemariah J. Arki’s activity on student leadership and the difference between being an ally and a co-conspirator kicked off the second day. Through a video by academic Bettina L. Love, students learned that an ally supports a group of people from afar but may be reluctant to relinquish their privilege, while a co-conspirator employs their privilege in service of anti-racism. Led by Dr. Arki, students and faculty then participated in a discussion about the video.

Later that day students considered how diverse historical figures paved the way for others after them—a theme highly pertinent to the conference, as faculty hoped that US students in DEIG-related leadership positions would also pave the way for Middle School (MS) and Lower School (LS) students with leadership aspirations, Ms. Sanderson said.

The creation of the BSU was the focus of the third day, per the request of Black-identifying students, who had expressed interest to DEIG Officer Leila Bailey-Stewart in founding an affinity space dedicated entirely to Black students.

“I met with students to hear their perspective,” Ms. Bailey-Stewart said. “Then I got the idea that in order to launch BSU, the best thing to do would be to bring students who had voiced their opinions and some additional students together to create the mission and purpose of BSU.”

Lorenzo Blackston ’26, Co-President of Brothers Seeking Academic Excellence, attended the third day of the retreat and said he plans to participate in BSU and hopes to take on a leadership role within it in the coming years.

“BSU will be a group, a community of people that can share their opinions and struggles and not be afraid of what others think,” he said. “Even if I don’t get the opportunity to lead BSU, I would like to be very involved in it.”

Fatmata Sesay ’23 said students at the retreat engaged in constructive dialogues.

“There are not many spaces in the school where people of color are in the majority,” she said. “I feel the retreat provided an amplifying space. Also being with a lot of adults who are there to listen to you and hear about your experience was really helpful.”

Fatmata stressed the importance of Black-identifying students having a designated space to engage in formative conversations regarding their experiences at the school.

Jaiden Douglin ’25 said the importance of Black voices at the school was emphasized throughout the retreat.

“This retreat created a foundation for furthering the change that is needed in the school,” he said. “BB&N definitely has ways to go, but if we continue to have these types of opportunities, this change will come a lot easier.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Beckett Dubovik
Beckett Dubovik, Projects Editor
Hi! I’m Beckett the Projects editor for Volume 53 of the Vanguard! Designing the Current Topics and Double Truck spreads are only one of my favorite things to do. I also enjoy running, swimming, feeding my gerbils, and writing in my free time!

Comments (0)

All The Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *