Silent Movement Displays
Lack of Diversity
Oona L ’19 reading anonymous testimony about sexual orientation identifier.
By Sophia K.
December 17, 2018
On November 8, 2018, Westridge teachers, Upper Schoolers and eighth graders flooded into Hoffman Gym to participate in a Student Voices assembly called the Silent Movement. This assembly utilized visual representation to display the diversity, or lack thereof, within the Westridge community.
In order to better understand who comprises the Westridge community, Student Voices gave Upper Schoolers, eighth graders, and faculty the opportunity to anonymously fill out identifier sheets during the previous advisory meeting. Identifiers included gender, ethnicity/race, religion, nationality, ability, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, and family structure. The sheets were then collected by Student Voices and randomly redistributed to students and faculty as they entered the gym to participate in the Silent Movement.
As Student Voices representatives read each of the identifiers, students stood in correspondence with the identifiers labeled on their given sheets. Visually representing the makeup of Westridge added to its impact on students.
Student Voices coupled privilege with identity, using personal testimonies to illustrate how Westridge students understand the advantages or disadvantages of their circumstances. Following each identifier (i.e. gender, race/ethnicity, etc.), a connected testimony was read either by a Student Voices member to preserve anonymity or by the writers themselves. One of the sharers, Shania B., ’21, spoke about her understanding of privilege in connection with having a neurological condition called hypotonia. Shania acknowledged that despite having hypotonia, she enjoys other privileges in the rest of her life. “I can walk when others can’t even if I can’t accept my body like others can. Thinking about my privilege has gotten me closer to any acceptance of who I am.”
For many of the identifiers, a clear majority fell into a single or two identifier sections. Particularly of note were the race/ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic status. The following statistics were calculated by Spyglass staffers who collected the discarded surveys. The statistics are the result of the 249 total surveys collected, which include faculty, staff, and students.
Haley P., ’19, shared a personal testimony about Christian stereotypes at Westridge. “It’s so unfortunate that simply declaring ‘I’m a Christian’ here, can lead to negative presumptions and historical baggage,” she shared. Haley wants her testimony to empower Westridge Christians to embrace their religious identity. “I hope other Christians on campus who are insecure about their faith will feel more comfortable reaching out,” Haley stated. While the majority of students identify as Christian, they are outnumbered by Agnostics and Atheists collectively.
Overall, Westridge students found the Silent Movement eye-opening, particularly in its focus on privilege. “Acknowledging privilege is amazing. Talking about privilege is amazing,” said Kat A., ’19. The one critique Kat made was that she “wishes there were fewer anonymous testimonies” because she found first-person declarations “more powerful.”
The Silent Movement aimed to visually illustrate the makeup of the Westridge community. “I hope this activity heightens everyone's awareness of who is on campus and who is missing or is underrepresented,” said Dr. Jessica Pérez del Toro, Dean of Student Voices.
*Statistics below were taken from collected Silent Movement Sheets and computed by Spyglass members. Spyglass members removed a total of 249 sheets from recycling bins at the doors of Hoffman Gym and used these to attain included percentages. Percentages do not represent the entirety of completed surveys. Percentages collectively equal more than 100% because some people choose more than one identifier.