In the beginning of the summer, Marian held three zoom meetings in the wake of George Floyd’s death to learn more about struggles the people of color face in the Marian community, and what administration can do to fix them. “This is too important to mess up,” Principal Susie Sullivan said. “We haven’t done enough within the student body.”
The meetings had around 40 people in attendance, including President Mrs. Mary Higgins, Mrs. Sullivan, Dean of Students Mrs. Kris Hennings, multiple teachers and students, and two outside guests. Annette Crowder, who works in transportation in OPS, and Cynthia Robinson, a UNO professor, attended to give administration an outside look on issues involving race.
The first meeting focused on establishing the problem. Junior Shantise Pearson attended those meetings and spoke out about her experiences. “I was specifically talking about how it feels as a person of color to see things not being done in our school that defend the humanity of non-white people,” Pearson said. “I had brought up that when a student had been proven to be posting racist things online, I felt that nothing had been done and it continued… When I trusted my school to take care of an issue and they didn’t, that is something that no longer has to do with the school, it has to do with my basic human rights, which is a lot to deal with as a young Black woman in America.”
The next few sessions were focused on solutions. Crowder, Robinson and the students informed the administration of what they needed. Agoum Monydahl, a graduate from the Class of 2020, spoke about what she needed from experience. “It’s hard to come forward at Marian,” Monydahl said. “I need this school to be pro life for all shades.”
Many ideas were shared, including the establishment of a Student Diversity Board and having mandatory speakers for students on race. The main issue, however, was inclusivity, meaning everyone needs to be part of the conversation. Fortunately, inclusivity is the solution. The Student Diversity Board will have members of all races from all walks of life. Senior Lauren Harris, who started the conversation with administration, put it perfectly: “The people who aren’t involved need to be involved.”
Pearson has faith in the administration, “I am proud to be at Marian and I am very confident that the staff members that I am working with want to be a part of that change.” The more everyone in the Marian community educates themselves on the problem, the easier it will be to make the solution.