The Multicultural Student Union has been growing its presence steadily over the past year.
On Monday, Dec. 2, they delivered a presentation at an Oregon High School faculty meeting for the first time, along with structured activities.
“I’m very disappointed,” Carlie Monroe, the group’s founder said to start the meeting.
Educators listened silently, as Monroe explained that students of color felt unsafe and often further marginalized by actions and lack of action by the faculty.
After Monroe’s initial PowerPoint about the steps teachers should take when they hear a microaggression, she turned the floor over to five students – one senior and four freshmen – to share stories the way other students have at previous faculty meetings.
With microphones in hand, the students went down the line sharing stories of anonymous students who have felt put down by teachers.
“I didn’t expect this from you,” one was told after a student received a high test score. Another broke down in tears, unable to fully share her story, about feeling “unsafe” in school.
Principal Jim Pliner and Monroe had worked together the previous day to set up details of the meeting.
He told the Observer student voice is powerful and important and that teachers found it to be the most impactful aspect of the faculty meetings.
OHS staff completed two activities during the meeting.
First, teachers had to match sayings or phrases with possible interpretations such as: “As a woman, I understand what you experience as a minority,” to a statement like “I’m not racist, because I’m oppressed like you.”
Next, faculty had four discussions points that they were meant to talk about in a two person group.
One example: “When people discuss microaggressions, a common response is that they are ‘innocent acts’ and that the person who experiences them should ‘let go of the incident’ and ‘not make a big deal out of it.’
Another: Alvin Poussaint refers to the cumulative impact of experiencing microaggressions as ‘death by a thousand nicks.”
With both statements, faculty were asked whether they agreed and why.