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Students Create IDEA Club

As has been our custom each fall, a group of six student leaders attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), this year held in Nashville, TN. Angela Battiata ’19 came away from the conference empowered, inspired, and ready to implement a great new IDEA!
 
IDEA stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness, a new club formed with the purpose to spark discussion about current events and ways prevalent social movements or issues may affect students. The idea is to share, in a safe space, more personal feelings and reflections and to learn to connect to people with different points of view and backgrounds. “It is a chance to get out of the Tabor bubble, to bring the outside in, and to connect it to us,” explained Angela. Everyone is invited and welcome to attend IDEA.
 
Angela involved her friend Yasmin Madmoune ’19 to help her plan their first meeting. A couple of coordinated programs about identity had the students talking and Angela thought this was the perfect time to launch the club. The first program was a Saturday School Day speaker, Denis Febo, who spoke with the school community about identity. Febo was followed by an impactful lesson delivered in Chapel the following Monday by Bert Nascimento, Co-Director of Equity and Inclusion. Students were discussing the silent movement exercise Nascimento led the community through at Chapel, an ice-breaker he learned at the SDLC conference, where people were invited to silently stand or sit as various adjectives they might identify with were mentioned. There were a lot of feelings generated, and plenty of discussion about it around campus and in dorm meeting afterward. Angela and Yasmin saw an opportunity to bring the feelings forward as a central topic for their new club. They were thrilled to see 35- 40 students at the first meeting. “We just offered an open and safe space to share feelings and hear people’s experience of the exercise. It was really interesting,” said Angela. The second meeting was about intersectionality and a third was a joint club meeting with the I AM THAT GIRL club. Angela feels the club’s early success is due to its leadership and founding by students. It is worth noting that the leaders are all students who have had the training provided by SDLC over the years.
 
In the joint meeting with the I AM THAT GIRL (IATG) club, a club for all students devoted to female empowerment and support, Angela was able to encourage more participation and leadership. “We talked about the experience of students of color on campus, mostly focusing on girls of color. It was a great crowd and a lot of people showed up. We broke off into groups led by two students of color. It was a time for other students to ask us questions and not be uncomfortable.”
 
At their most recent meeting, students were invited to share an anonymous question by adding it to a basket, taking turns sharing an answer. All different types of questions were added such as how to handle microaggressions; how to deal with mental/emotional stress; how to help out an insecure friend. Angela shared, "I really enjoyed answering the last question –‘What is the best thing about Tabor?" - and so did others because we all came to the conclusion that Tabor has helped us become more open-minded people and more aware of our surrounding." 
 
Angela shared, "Attending SDLC was truly the best thing I have ever done or experienced. It opened my eyes and I saw the world in a different way. It helped me acknowledge the power I have as a student and allowed me to not be afraid to use my voice. That is why when I came back from SDLC I was so empowered to use that energy and focus it on doing something for the Tabor community. IDEA was the best way to do that - it allowed me to bring all the useful information I learned and share it with others. I encourage all students to apply to SDLC because it is an eye-opening experience. "
 
As the school year races to the finish, Angela and Yasmin are concerned with succession. Both leaders are seniors and hope to uncover an underclassmen duo who will keep the flame alive. Yasmin said, “If IDEA were to prosper and stay prevalent in Tabor society, that would really be a dream come true.” Angela’s sister will be a sophomore next year….maybe there is a flicker there!

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