by Latasia Lanier, Upper School student equity programs coordinator
Students at Lakeside Upper School have the option of participating in affinity, alliance, and learning groups. The groups are an important part of students’ learning and community experience.
- An affinity group is a gathering of people who share an identity and recognize that their identity affects the way in which they move through the world. Although members of the group may share an identifier, not everyone may share the same life experiences. Affinity groups provide opportunities for students to reflect on a shared identity and their experiences within the context of the school and our community.
- An alliance group is a gathering of people who identify as members of a group and/or for people who support and stand in solidarity with that group.
This school year, some groups are brand new, some have been rebranded, and some have been a part of the school for decades. While the Upper School affinity and alliance groups have adult advisors, they are led by students. In mid-October, student leaders introduced the groups to the Upper School community and issued invitations to join them. Groups may meet weekly or monthly during dedicated time in the Upper School schedule.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the following groups will meet:
Native American Student Alliance (NASA). This alliance group is a place for Native students at Lakeside to share common experiences. The group’s goals include promoting greater awareness of Native Americans and Native American issues through sharing aspects of Native culture including history, politics, language, art, food, and more. The group aims to cultivate a culture of inclusivity, leadership, and action and create a tight-knight, broad, and diverse community of allies for Native American students. As an alliance group, students do not have to identify as Native American or Indigenous to attend.
Latinx-Hispanic Affinity group (LATISPA). This affinity group (formerly Si Se Puede) is a place for Latinx and Hispanic students to hang out, talk about experiences, and learn about each other’s cultures. Through a mixture of structured and unstructured meetings, along with bigger events, the group strives to cultivate a strong Latinx/Hispanic community that is safe, inclusive, and socially active. While mostly an affinity group, they also host larger events for the community focused on allyship. Learn more in this blog from a student leader.
South Asian Affinity Group (SAAG). This group, which started last year, aims to raise awareness of South Asian culture at Lakeside and create a supportive environment for South Asian students to share their culture and experiences. This year they’re planning on hosting sessions with South Asian Lakeside alumni, discussing South Asian representation in media and watching Bollywood movies, and hosting events to celebrate South Asian culture.
Black Student Union (BSU) affinity group. BSU is a safe and supportive place for people who identify as Black and African American. They strive to celebrate the beauty, excellence, and strength of the Black community. They hope to enrich and educate Black students as well as the broader community on the significance of cultural diversity at Lakeside. Learn more in this blog by student leaders.
Multicultural Initiators eXperiencing and Encouraging Diversity (MIxED). MIxED is an affinity group for students who identify as multiracial or multiethnic to share and learn about their identity and to have fun.
Lakeside Asian-Pacific Students (LAPS) affinity group. This affinity group aims to support Asian American and Pacific Islander students in our community and celebrate and raise awareness of various Asian cultures and API identity through informal discussions, volunteer work, and social events. Learn more in this blog by a former student leader.
Student Awareness Council (SAC). This is a group for students interested in increasing awareness, conversation, and action about a wide spectrum of socio-political issues relevant to students’ lives. During two student-led retreats during the school year, students engage in open dialogue about identity (race, class, and gender). This year the group is focusing on coalition-building and connecting in safe ways during the pandemic. Learn more in this blog by a student leader.
Interfaith and Spirituality affinity group. This group, which started last year, is a space for students from different faiths and spiritualities to discuss and share similarities and differences, deepen their understanding of world religions, and cultivate peace and compassion in the Lakeside community.
Chronic Illness and Disability Affinity group (CIDA). This new group aims to provide a welcoming community space for all students on the disability spectrum, where members can engage in meaningful discussion about ability and illness, bond and connect with other students experiencing disability or chronic illness, and feel supported during times of need.
Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever (GLOW). An LGBTQ+ alliance group open to all students, GLOW's purpose is to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ members of the Lakeside community. Besides being a safe and inclusive space to all, GLOW serves an educational purpose, holding discussions surrounding sexuality and gender identity. The group also offers support and a listening ear for questioning students in confidential affinity meetings. Learn more in this blog by a student leader.
Lakeside Anti-Racist Students (LARS). This new group is a learning group open to all students of any race. LARS is a group of students at Lakeside whose goal is to unpack the complex systems of race and racial bias that govern the school and the general societal environment. Members are committed to the inclusion of all in this group. Members who identify as white recognize that it is not the burden of BIPOC members to educate their white peers on topics like microaggressions and racial biases that occur within the Lakeside community. The group aims to guide members toward unlearning their unconscious biases and becoming anti-racist advocates, as well as striving together to develop skills as activists and organizers for more equitable schools and communities. Learn more in this blog by student leaders.
We encourage you to learn more about Lakeside’s affinity and alliance program: Read about the Middle School program, reach out to members of the equity and inclusion team, or learn about the parent and guardian affinity group program. You can find additional information about the purpose of affinity and alliance groups in this FAQ for parents and guardians.
Affinity and alliance groups are part of Lakeside’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Learn about the current initiative, Our Work Together, and review the initiative dashboard at lakesideschool.org/ourworktogether. Find information about programming, student blogs, and DEI leadership at lakesideschool.org/diversity-equity-and-inclusion.