Opinion: Why does leadership look so white?

Feature Photo By: Myriam Alcala- Juniors Zoe Reid (left) and Allison Powell (middle) along with senior Lauren Graff (right) work on homecoming details during fourth period. Student leadership meets during this period, and as seen in the picture, there is an overwhelming white presence in STUCO. 

By: Myriam Alcala, Review Staff

I’ll start with this question: Do you feel represented by Rangeview’s Student Leadership?

“I’ve noticed that the class is predominantly white,” answered Salma Naoui, a junior. “In school you have the leadership kids […] and then everyone else.”

When I walk through the halls of Rangeview High School, I feel like I travel the world in the span of five minutes.

I hear other students greeting friends in the hall: “Que Onda!?!”

I pass the commons and hear a faint melody of banda music playing on someone’s phone, pass the CCC and see BSA (Black Student Alliance) meeting.

Then, I walk into the theater – fourth period – to a completely different world.

The atmosphere is distinct when compared to the rest of the school. There are no welcomes or greetings in various languages and dialects. There is no music playing that commemorates a beloved culture. They all look the same; and who is “they,” you ask?

Rangeview Student Leadership.

Rangeview High School is home to one of the most diverse populations of students in Colorado: We are 37% Hispanic/Latino, 27% White, 22% Black/African American, 5.5% Asian, 2.28% Native and/or Pacific Islander, according to Counselor Kyle Hirsch.

“I think leadership makes a very good attempt to show all the culture of Rangeview,” said junior, Jackson Stone Tarr, “but it’s so dominated by [white] people.”

In comparison to Rangeview’s demographics, STUCO consists of 42.1% White, 20.3% Hispanic/Latino, 21.8% Black/African American, 12.5% Asian, and 3% Native and/or Pacific Islander.

So many voices, so many cultures that are represented and yet, there is a problem: white people overpower any other race in STUCO which then leaves minority students, voiceless.

I would know, I’m in there every day.

Student Leadership itself proves this point correct. A few days ago in class we were told to rank things that were most important to make a good student council. In our group “providing student voice” was one of the last things on the list.

In fact, for the leadership conference Rangeview STUCO hosted Sept. 4th, subjects such as silly songs and leadership lessons had their own workshop whereas student voice was combined with community service; in fact, student voice wasn’t mentioned as an option.

What message does that send about our student council? We care more about songs we sing in class than being a voice for the students — that’s what student council is supposed to be: A voice, a government, for Rangeview students.

And it only gets worse…

Posed photo of the 2018-19 executive council. Again, there is an overwhelming white presence in the most influential positions. (Angelica Reyes)

Out of the students who have a leadership position (President, VP, etc.) the vast majority are white; to add on to that, the most important positions are filled by white students.

I am not saying “don’t let white people be in leadership”; I am saying that STUCO is good at throwing a big homecoming, good at school spirit, but where are the voices and diversity that makes Rangeview, Rangeview?

Jackson Stone Tarr, a student who identifies as Latino,  also added, “I would feel safer and better if there was more culture within the leadership community.”

When talking to Ron Fay, principal of Rangeview, he acknowledged the situation of leadership’s demographics.

“We had made the decision to have Ms. Dean take over student leadership […] we were standing in the main office, she said to me: somethings gotta change, everyone in leadership looks just like me,” Mr. Fay said.

It was relieving to hear that someone in power finally saw the problems that have been growing in student leadership for years now, and that is why after this spark of hope, it was even more disheartening to hear that when sophomore STUCO was short three students, those positions were filled with three more white females. This was yet another missed opportunity.

Junior, Alexander Semere, a black student at Rangeview, said, “We don’t have that many students of color in leadership and it’s hard to get to (represent) African Americans and other minorities.”

He continues, “it’s mostly made up of white people, and they don’t come and ask for our opinion.”

I could go on with the lists of how time and time again, white student leaders forget about the people they are supposed to represent.

Fay assures that, “moving forward you will see change…”

But let’s be real here — change will only happen if you stand up for yourself.

Instead of letting only white students dictate how STUCO is run and how OUR school is run, stand up and advocate for more student voice.

Run for a student council position. Become a leader in your own community. Reach out to me today to be part of the elections for 2019-20 leadership that will be happening in January: m.alcala2020@gmail.com

Make Rangeview Leadership as colorful as the students in the school.

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