Within independent schools, identity-based affinity groups are implemented as a way of recognizing the need, and benefits, for students to connect with and support one another in developing a positive self-image as members of various social identity groups. Thus, this coming academic year, Identity-Based Affinity Groups will be developed and approved through the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
This new opportunity for Upper School students has the following as its starting premise:
- we all have personal identities and social identities,
- throughout the lives of all students, especially as they go through adolescence, they experience the tension that exists between their personal identities and their social identities,
- it is the job of educators to support students with positive social identity development -- understanding how their social group memberships impact the ways they are perceived by others, how they perceive others, and how they interact with one another across difference.
As implemented in the upper school, faculty or staff who ideally self-identify within the parameters of the affinity group will serve as moderators/facilitators. In this role, they will set ground rules, create agendas, support voluntary involvement of participants in the group, pose questions to attendees for discussion, and gather data about possible issues or challenges that need to be addressed to better support students. Approved groups will meet twice per semester or monthly (as needed). Identity-based affinity groups in the Upper School will not operate in silos. Rather, there will be continued and intentional opportunities for all members of the NA community to engage the diversity of our student body.