An affinity group is “a group of people having a common interest or goal or acting together for a specific purpose,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Many high schools have them so students can feel comfortable and supported around people similar to them identity wise. However, many wonder why there are not many affinity groups for the students in the C&C community and why there are no limits on staff affinity groups.
It is known that C&C is a small school that tries to support each and every student. However, C&C may benefit from students supporting each other in small groups where they feel comfortable, in addition to school. Even the staff at C&C have the ability to join affinity groups if they want to. C&C would improve greatly if students could have more of their own groups because they may feel comfortable sharing private information that may be affecting them around people who can relate.
However, C&C’s only present affinity groups for the students are “Banana Splits” with Eileen Fitzgerald, Psychologist for the Vllls - Xllls, “Students of Color” with Millie Cartagena, Director of Community Life, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Xllls girls lunch with Trayshia Rogers, XIIIs co-teacher. “Banana Splits is a cool place to go if you have parental issues. My parents are divorced and it feels nice to be able to relate to the other students and hear their stories. It is a judgement free zone. Everyone feels comfortable there as far as I can tell,” shared Quinn Kleinhans. Last year, Pete Weiss, XllsP teacher, was the head of an LGBTQ affinity group during lunch. All of these groups above contain students from the Xls, Xlls, and Xllls.
“I think having affinity groups is a good idea. It would really provide a safe space for people with something in common and it would be a great way to meet new people,” said Nathalie Robayo, Xllls.
However, some students did not even know that C&C had affinity groups. “I’m not really sure what affinity groups C&C has because I do not see any posters or anything in the halls or in emails. They should make students more aware that they have them. In the XIs there was a diversity group, but there were only two people so I think they should try to reach out more,” said Chase Holness, XIIIs. “A group should at least be three people and there are not many XIIs or XIs in Banana Splits. There are also people who live in single family homes who probably don’t know that they can go to Banana Splits. If a student needs help or they just want to talk, they should know that they have an option to go to a supportive group,” continued Chase.
Publicity is a big issue with the affinity groups at C&C today. If there were posters or signs saying, “Come to the People of Color Group on Tuesdays!” many more people may join. Also, bringing activities and snacks would make the affinity groups more fun instead of talking while eating lunch. “I thought that even though I did not identify with the LGBTQ community, it was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the history and current events on the topic of the LGBTQ community with Pete’s LGBTQ group in the XIIs. I liked it because there were some words that I did not know and it was nice to talk about it and understand its meaning. We should be able to bring certain activities and definitely snacks even though it is during lunch,” said Lilly Meyer, XIIIs. “But when Eileen was in charge of Banana Splits, she would give out cards that had questions and we would answer them with our at home situations. I did like that because it was a way to start conversations,” Lilly continued.
In order to publicize more affinity groups, everyone should brainstorm ways to make them seem more enjoyable. Besides these few affinity groups, C&C does not have any more for the students. The staff at C&C have different opinions on having students creating their own affinity groups. Some think that it would work, while others think that students will not learn to defend themselves if they are part of a minority affinity group such as one for only African-Americans. The other problem with students creating their own affinity groups is that they may be inappropriate. For instance, having affinity groups based on how wealthy your family is, or your size and weight. These examples could have serious consequences such as making people develop negative body images or elitist mindsets.
The reason why C&C currently and in the past never had religion-based affinity groups is because C&C is a non-religion associated school. As any student may notice, our community does not celebrate holidays like many other schools because of C&C not wanting to be associated with a certain religion. Though it has not happened and it will probably not occur, the staff do not have a decision yet on whether or not they would allow a religion based affinity group for the staff and students.
Besides the worries, letting students have their own affinity groups can be helpful because if you are part of a minority group and you want to talk to talk to people who can relate, an affinity group gives you that chance.
The staff think about all the pros and cons of having affinity groups at C&C which is why the students have a limited number of affinity groups currently. If students really want their own group, they really have to think about it before requesting it from their teacher. Students are the ones that can change how C&C functions and turn it into a school that offers a variety of affinity groups to match with the students’ interests and identities.