The Bexley Anti-Racism Project has become a new club in the high school that allows students to get involved with changes coming to the school district regarding inclusivity and greater representation of minority students.
Social studies teacher and BARP club adviser Anna Schottenstein explained that the club is a satellite group of the already-existing organization in the community. They hope to bring students of all backgrounds together to fight for a more equal future. They had their first meeting Friday Jan. 22 and plan to meet biweekly on Fridays, she said.
“The school club is going to be a little different than the community club,” Schottenstein said. “We’ve kind of developed our own mission and our own goals for this group that are a little more focused…on this school district.”
Schottenstein said she has been involved in the Bexley Anti-Racism Project since the start. The Bexley alumni founders of the organization asked for her advice for creating the group and getting it off the ground, which prompted Schottenstein to join. The club hopes to get students involved in the changes that the community organization is fostering, she said.
“Not only was this something I was passionate about, I was interested in becoming a member,” she said. “I began to meet weekly or biweekly with a lot of the founding members and kind of helped to guide them through the process of forming a [school] club.”
Sophomore Keira Murray also got involved with the original Bexley Anti-Racism Project in July and has since been heavily involved in the club’s creation. Murray explained that as one of the student founders of the school club, she is eager to see it succeed.
“I think it’s going to be a really good opportunity to be able to make change in Bexley,” Murray said. “Hopefully, it will be able to create change so that minority students can have more support. I think that, right now, we’re focusing on… providing more information to students so that they can be more informed about anti-racism [and] about microaggressions.”
Murray explained that at their first club meeting, they had focused on planning out the club and what it wants to do. However, in the future, they hope to bring in speakers, like those who have come in for Black History Month, to further racial education and help students participate in civil discourse.
Schottenstein added that those in the organization had considered creating a club at the school last year but decided against it initially to focus on other things in the community. After a few months of school, they decided to begin the process to become a club because students needed a place to discuss and process current events, she said.
“I want it to be a club that’s for students, run by students, and what students need and want,” Schottenstein said. “My goal is to create a safe space…for growing and learning and no judgment and fill a space that hasn’t been filled in the past.”
Murray explained that when the founding members decided to start the club, they reached out to the administration and Principal Kristin Robbins and then had to draw up the goals and objectives of the club. After that was done, Murray said they had to collect enough signatures from students to prove that there was enough interest in the club for it to actually function. The club got enough signatures to become a club around the time their first meeting happened, and since then have had two meetings that had good turnout and discussion, she said.
Junior Lou Cariello has also been involved with forming the club and explained that she hopes that this club will allow for Bexley’s mostly white student body to get exposure to other cultures.
“It will allow more people to kind of expand their viewpoint,” Cariello said. “Because sometimes even if we don’t mean to, we have a very American-centric viewpoint. It’s always very valuable to have different perspectives.”
She also hopes that the club will also be able to reach out to more minority groups besides African-Americans so that they are represented as well.
Schottenstein expressed her own hope that eventually this club will not have to exist.
“There will be a point in time in which…this group has worked hard enough and had enough influence that there isn’t racial inequity,” Schottenstein said, “that we can just have groups focused on being kind and making the community a better place.”