Social and Racial Justice Student Union Works for Progress

Emma Malabanan, Managing Editor

A new student club is trying to address bias and equity issues for marginalized student groups at Monroe-Woodbury.
The Social and Racial Justice Student Union is an activist club focused on learning the erased history of people of color, as well as discussing issues of racism they currently face inside and outside of school.
The club was organized in May 2020 by then Monroe-Woodbury senior Chris Staley.
The idea of this club came into formation after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. A group of students collectively agreed that they wanted to share their negative experiences as people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
According to Staley, she and a group of other people felt that Monroe-Woodbury needed to spend time making a message to the community that they “will not stand and tolerate bigotry and racism in our school,” said Staley.

“We also highlighted the implicit biases that are embedded in our education and the failure to be actively creating and promoting an anti-racist school environment,” said Staley.
This club was made as a sanctuary for marginalized students and for their voices to be heard, a way to help establish an anti-racist and anti-homophobic environment and to be a force that could stand up against discrimination.
“Ms. Edwards-Allen and I have been wanting to start a club like this for years,” said Ms. Balousek, the club adviser. Balousek said, “After the murder of George Floyd in May, a group of our students were moved to rally for systematic change at MWHS.”
“I think that this country has a long history of racism that often goes ignored. This includes what is seen in our curriculum, in the images we see in media, and the conversations we have within society. Schools are a microcosm of these problems. Now is the time to change the dialogue around these issues so that every student has the opportunity to feel safe and seen in their school and the larger community,” said Ms. Edwards-Allen.
Staley, amongst other students, felt that they lacked a group that would help make changes in this high school. They wanted a place for the voices of minority students to be heard, so they decided to start the Social and Racial Justice Club.
“The club is planning to create a learning environment for certain topics that we don’t specifically learn about in school, for example, historical BIPOC that are often erased from history,” said junior Lilianna Kehnle. She continued, “We also hope for it to create a space where students can ask questions about topics if they don’t understand that affect marginalized groups and have open conversations.”
Their flier states “Our mission is to increase the positive representation of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) population in Monroe-Woodbury High School. We also aim to promote social and racial justice within the school.”
“Although we’re still trying to make major changes in the school, the student body seems to be very interested in making a difference in our community,” said Kehnle.
Social media for the Social and Racial Justice Student Union is in the process of being approved so that they can spread the word about BIPOC and moments that were unrecognized.
“We are really looking forward to it,” said Ms. Balousek.
The Social and Racial Justice Student Union meets every other Wednesday at 3 p.m. with the Google Classroom code of px5pgpk.
“Establishing this club was our way of giving new students a place they can go to, to not only voice their own experiences but be the change they want to be in their school,” said Staley.
The process to form the Social and Racial Justice Student Union took from late May to September. Over the summer, the team of students and teachers went back and forth over text messages, Google Meets, and Discord brainstorming ways to make this club the most effective.
“It was ultimately a long process but one that we stuck through to help make this change,” said Staley.