Students Push for More Equity at PCS


Kira Valles-Knoll, Art Editor

A little while ago, I sat down with Alejandra Meza, a sophomore at PCS, to discuss the opening of her new organization, Students for Equity on Campus (SEC). The  student-run organization will work with the administration and others to create a more equitable climate on campus. The SEC will also found a club — although that will only be one part of the organization — where students of any ethnicity, gender identity, or sexuality can come to feel included. 

So far, the organization has been working with Dr. Hector Rico, the diversity director at PCS, and Mr. Cohn, the seventh grade history teacher and the SEC faculty advisor. The organizers’ goal is to hold the administration accountable for achieving its stated diversity goals, and to have the students see and feel a change in the way that our school interacts with students from various backgrounds. An unwelcoming atmosphere has led to PCS’s inability to build a diverse student body by retaining students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and those from a lower socioeconomic background. The organization will also focus on intersectionality — discussing how to include and understand the overlapping identities everyone carries, and what we can do to lift each other up. Most of the issues that SEC will work on will be in the form of student-led projects. The students will work off of diversity materials the school has provided, and the projects will revolve around helping students feel like they belong on campus. 

Another goal that SEC is trying to reach is ensuring our school has more diversity among teachers. Students need to feel like they have someone to turn to if they are experiencing an issue surrounding their identity — especially their race. Having diverse teachers would make students feel more heard, and may encourage them to stay at PCS. Alejandra told me about how her high school experience so far has influenced her life, and said if she can help improve anyone else’s, she will. With the beginning of Students for Equity on Campus, Alejandra aims to impact student life at our school. Students are the ones being shaped by the climate of PCS, and the things they learn here are what they are going to take with them through the rest of their lives. 

Alejandra told me that she has had the idea for a coalition like this one since arriving at PCS in seventh grade. She wants to create a space for students to explore their passions and express themselves, while learning about the world around them. She has been working on launching this organization since the beginning of this school year, and so far, it has gone smoothly. She told me that creating and launching the project has been time-intensive, although there has not been any pushback from the administration. “It just takes time,” she said.

Alejandra is especially thankful for Mr. Cohn, who really sparked her interest in activism and being anti-racist. She said that he has been by her side throughout the whole process, and has been a reliable mentor for her to look to. 

For those who have already joined the organization, expect to have more meetings this year. The club that will be coming soon hopes to provide a safe and equitable environment for marginalized communities, where students can share their passions, expand their horizons, and learn how to become an ally. Those interested in joining the leadership team should be eager to make change happen, as they will be working with the School Board to push PCS towards equity. 

Alejandra will be sending out forms to become a club member or a leader later in the year. Eventually, when we can see each other in person again and the organization can really take off, SEC will hold a variety of events and fundraisers to help students interact with the club. They will also be having guest speakers, and providing education about being anti-racist and inclusive with each other.