Why diversity is an issue at Avenues
Have you ever thought about diversity and how it impacts the Avenues community? The fact is, there isn’t enough ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic diversity at Avenues. When you focus on the Avenues student body, there isn’t much ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic diversity.
A seventh grader at Avenues who chose to remain anonymous said, “It’s only minorities talking about race at Avenues.” Sadly, this seems to be true. It seems like diversity is the invisible elephant in the room at Avenues.People are aware of the subject, yet do not consider whether the community or place that they’re in is diverse or not.
David Buckwald, the Head of Admissions at Avenues, cares a lot about diversity and inclusion. “I would like to see more support for sustained dialogue about issues concerning diversity and inclusion,” said Buckwald. When Buckwald made this point, it caused me to think about any times that type of dialogue happened during my experience at Avenues. Even though we have things like “Awareness Day” and “Community Day,” these are just isolated moments to talk through the issues. The topics we talk about on those days should be discussed every day.
In an interview with Dr. Evan Glazer, the Head of School, commented, “I hope Avenues can become more representative of New York City in terms of race, culture, religion, and socioeconomic diversity. More diversity will bring more perspectives so our students can be uniquely equipped to understand and solve global scale problems." When spoken to about community day, he nodded and said, "The deeper meaning of Community Day should be taught everyday. We want students to understand what inclusion means first based on learning empathy, identity, cultures, beliefs, and humility, and then use those principles to participate in meaningful community engagement that improves the lives of other people.” Evan Glazer also commented, “We have diversity as it relates to cultures and lived experiences around the world. In our upcoming Avenues World's Fair, we will celebrate our diversity through food, arts, music, and activities in the spirit of recognizing and appreciating our global community.”
Buckwald also touched on the subject of socioeconomic diversity at Avenues. He talked about how Avenues offers financial aid. “From an access standpoint, cost at private schools around the world has been a barrier to many talented students and families...We can do better by our motto, ‘Welcome, Safety, Respect. In addition to diversity and inclusion, I care deeply about access and equality, and making an Avenues education available to those promising students in New York City who deserve to be a part of our amazing community.” This describes how the Admissions team at Avenues is looking to create opportunities for those less fortunate. Buckwald also shared that it’s important to be aware as a whole school.“I think that it's important that for Avenues as a school, and further as a community, to take time to share conversations and views about diversity and culture at Avenues. Having those conversations is very important.”
In fact, a few years ago, the school appointed AnaMaria Correa to the position of Director of Community Engagement & Inclusion in order to fuel conversations on diversity. This was a good first step towards making diversity and inclusion a part of the everyday Avenues environment.
The seventh grader I interviewed shares this interesting view as well. They said, “I think we need to give scholarships to kids in the projects. If $50,000 dollars is the amount of money we pay for this school, at least give scholarships to a couple of kids in the projects.”
Dr. Glazer’s comment shows that in some way or form, Avenues is doing something on this issue.
When it comes to financial aid, Buckwald provided numbers that were quite stunning. Avenues has spent more than 9.2 million dollars on grants and financial aid every year. While this is a great option for less fortunate families, there still are complications. Scholarships should not be the only way to increase diversity.
Avenues, this is a wake up call. Diversity is not something that should only be discussed about at home. In order to become a new school of thought, we need to consider diverse perspectives in terms of ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic diversity. In order to achieve that, we need to be a more diverse school. If Avenues wants to live up to its description as a new school of thought, we need a more diverse and inclusive working and learning environment.