On Thursday, April 16, the candidates for the 2015-2016 inclusivity coordinator position in the CGSA gathered to hold a forum. Students were invited to send in questions or attend the forum in order to better gauge the opinions of the prospective members.
The three candidates, Lucas Stiff Arm ’16, Shantih Kleen ’16, and Ben Kitoko ’16, sat together and engaged the other students in the room in a discussion about their ideas and goals for the next year.
When asked about their character traits and past experiences, Kleen responded first. She detailed her experience in Ujima and Asian Pride Club, her progress in starting up the Affinity groups and expressed her enthusiasm and organized lifestyle.
Kitoko followed up by expressing his interest in considering all different perspectives on inclusivity, his co-creation of the Black Student Union, and involvement in the Multnomah Youth Commission.
Stiff Arm closed the question with his qualifications, mentioning his work with Odyssey and his hopes to alleviate tensions around talking about inclusivity.
After hearing the candidates past experience, another question was posed that focused on any changes, ideas, or goals the candidates had in mind for the next year.
All three candidates expressed interest in forming a committee, recognizing that a group of people to help make decisions could be a useful asset to the inclusivity coordinator position. When looking toward the future, the three candidates also agreed that Catlin Gabel could benefit from increasing admissions and faculty diversity.
In addition to this, Kitoko mentioned that he hoped to reach out to the future Diversity Equity Director and discuss current and future plans.
Stiff Arm also mentioned his interest in bridging the gap between the upper school and the middle school in terms of inclusivity.
“It’s important for the middle school to be more involved and taught more” Stiff Arm explained. “Because I feel like misunderstanding a lot of those things is what causes stress.”
“Another thing that will be hard and take time, but it’s really important, is diversity in curriculum.” Kleen continued. “It’ll give us an opportunity to see some different perspectives.”
When the candidates were asked about their efforts to ease tension around people that are considered privileged, Kitoko answered: “White privilege isn’t an attack on who someone is, but rather there needs to be a conversation on what that is.”
Kitoko was not the only one with this goal. All three candidates hope to create a space where conversations can easily be had by anyone at the school about any issue, where students can feel safe to speak or to just listen.