Clubs emphasize alliance, affinity, and interests

This year, all of the clubs at Dana Hall School are divided into three categories: alliance, affinity, and interest based. Affinity clubs are specifically for those who share a particular identity, that create an atmosphere of people who can speak from the ‘I perspective’. Alliance clubs are for students who identify with a certain identity and those that do not who are allies and want to learn more about that particular identity. The remainder of clubs are interest based, meaning anyone who is interested in a particular topic are welcome to join.

There are many interest based clubs at Dana Hall for students to join, ranging from baking club, to book club, to Model United Nations and Girl Up. These clubs give opportunities for students to connect and bond over similarities.

On the other hand, alliance clubs offer spaces for people to connect over shared identities and also educate those that do not share that identity about it, so they can support. Some examples of alliance clubs at Dana Hall are Bridge (LGBTQ+ club) and Kesher (Jewish student group). The Neurodiversity Alliance group is open to those who do not identify as neurodivergent, but will have ‘closed meetings’ every so often for those who identify as neurodivergent only.

Rachel Nagler, Director of Community, Equity, and Inclusion, believes that this shift in identifications will address “different needs for different people, we all have so many different facets, like some of us are athletes but we also like to play music. The idea that we are exclusively one thing and not the other is problematic so we want to open up spaces for people to have different parts of themselves attended to…I think hopefully the need for having designated spaces means that we’re not trying to do everything all the time.”

The one club that changed identification is SHADES (Sisters Honoring All Diasporas & Enlightening Society), now also known as BLSU (Black Latino Student Union). In the hopes of altering the dynamic of the club, it has transitioned from an alliance club to an affinity space, a decision made by tri heads Miracle Brown ‘23, Nia Orr ‘23 and Brianna Dunkley ‘23. 

This year’s change has been made with the help of Ms. Nagler, with the intent of having “more of a productive use of the space and time in the day” according to Nia. Nia also commented, “I think there will be more people who will be able to speak from the ‘I perspective’” which she believes is important to the club dynamic. Nia was one of the heads of SHADES last year as well, and noticed that “whenever we would talk, we would see the kind of people that actually showed up were the people of color.” By creating an affinity space, the hope was that the people showing up would be more passionate and able to feel comfortable participating.

Miracle commented that she “wanted [the club] to be less of a space where it would be a trauma dump, but more of a space where we can talk about ways to resolve issues and talk about shared experiences and how we could be able to resolve any issues that came up.” Miracle wanted to be a head of SHADES this year because talking about diversity has become a lot more important to her and as she says, “coming to Dana and seeing a lot more diversity that way kind of made me feel a lot more confident talking about my views of that and I thought SHADES would be the perfect opportunity to tell my experiences but also hear other peoples’ as well.”

The inspiration for this change struck when these three attended a conference over the summer called the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SLDC). At this conference, they met with people from all different backgrounds and realized that they wanted to see more affinity spaces at Dana Hall. According to Nia, “when you can feel really connected to what you are talking about you have more people that are enthusiastic to come.”

Going forward, the tri-heads hope to create a strong dynamic within the club throughout the year, with one of the main goals being focused on bonding. Miracle says, “I think we want to have a lot more community events [and] bonding within our community” and she wants to, “make this last year of running this club the best it can be.”

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