Student groups plan Speaker Day focused on gender equity


Georgia Ross

SETTING PRIORITIES. Upper School Council talks through the Speaker Day schedule in a meeting Apr. 11. The topic of the day is gender. USC co-president Maryeva Gonzalez hopes that, by the end of the day, the community understands “people whose experiences with gender are different from [their] own.”

The SPA community will come together for a day of listening and growth Apr. 24 to confront gender equity and experience, a topic the US Council and Student Intercultural Life Council have deemed prevalent in the student body.

The prime objective of Speaker Day is “to bring a lot of very diverse voices from within and without the community to talk about the issue of gender (or whatever the topic is) and to have students engage with it,” USC advisor Jon Peterson said.

To begin the process, USC members brainstorm topics they find important to the community. After running a vote to see what the majority of the council is in favor of, they began their search for speakers. In this step, many speakers are found through personal connections, alumni who have some experience with gender equality, and a few “cold emails […to] professors who may be on the topic,” Peterson said.

The council has created an elaborate schedule that works for all the speakers and came up with activities that support the topic for smaller group discussions. The day begins with a keynote, includes with breakout groups where students and faculty will hear from different speakers,  a panel of current community members, and close with advisory.

Since not all the speakers are able to visit the campus, some will present on Zoom.

The most challenging obstacle of planning Speaker Day was making sure speakers have the proper technology and are prepared for the day.

USC co-president Maryeva Gonzalez said that the topic of gender equality and experience is applicable for students: “High school is kind of a time where you’re figuring out how your identity kind of shapes your life experience, whether good or bad,” she said.

Gender equality and experience is “evergreen,” Peterson said. “Every year in senior speeches, there are female-identifying students that talk about their experience at SPA and life in general and the challenges and difficulties that the patriarchy puts in their way.”

High school is kind of a time where you’re figuring out how your identity shapes your life experience, whether good or bad.

— Maryeva Gonzalez

Perspective. Attitude. Reflection. Those are three objectives USC and SILC want a see during Speaker Day.

Junior Melina Kannankutty wants to hear “What constitutes as a joke…I think that’s a very big misconception, right?”

Gonzalez hopes that the community understands “people whose experiences with gender are different from [their] own.”

Peterson hopes that “People in the community will take it seriously, decide to tune in, and…use their privilege for good.”

Speaker Day is a bi-annual event, traditionally hosted by USC. The 2021 day focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.