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Aequitas scheduled to take place as one-day event

Students+listen+while+Saoirse+Burlingame+%28%E2%80%9924%29+and+Sofia+Limena+%28%E2%80%9924%29+present+a+workshop+about+bias+in+artificial+intelligence+during+Aequitas+Week+in+March+2023.+This+year%2C+Aequitas+will+take+place+over+the+course+of+a+whole+day+and+contain+a+simulation+portion.
Rudi Chamria
Students listen while Saoirse Burlingame (’24) and Sofia Limena (’24) present a workshop about bias in artificial intelligence during Aequitas Week in March 2023. This year, Aequitas will take place over the course of a whole day and contain a simulation portion.

Director of Student Life Royce Wallace announced in an email Nov. 20 that Aequitas would take place Feb. 22 this year. Aequitas, an event hosted by the Social Justice Council that involves student-led workshops and guest speakers, has taken place over a week in previous years.

Kaila Brooks (’24), one of the two Aequitas planners, said they changed the structure of the event due to conflicts with school breaks and because of the success of Human Rights Seminar with workshops that fit into a Wednesday schedule.

“We knew that the day schedule kind of works, and there are a lot more things that we thought we could do in a day,” Brooks said. ”It gives us the whole time to ourselves instead of trying to fit things between classes.”

Similarly, Wallace said SJC implemented feedback from last year’s Aequitas Week and believed the new format would allow for a more convenient flow throughout the day.

Wallace also said the most challenging part of planning Aequitas week is usually “trying to not disrupt the school day,” so having one day set aside avoids interference with classes and break times.

 

 


Choosing a workshop

Brooks said the Aequitas committee, which consists of seven group members and two leaders – herself and Olivia Holmberg (’25) – begins planning in November by sending out workshop leader signups to “get a sense of where people are in terms of interest.”

Subsequently, Brooks said the committee reaches out to workshop leaders for necessary materials and blurb descriptions that are later sent to the whole High School.

Workshop leader Aris Perrotis (’25) said ongoing global issues inspired him to create a workshop about genocides and neocolonialism around the world.

“I found that through the classes that I’m taking, I learned a lot about genocides and the legal definitions of genocides,” Perrotis said. “I’ve just been shocked to see that we’ve done a very poor job preventing it, and I think that this is a topic that is super important for others to know about.”

Meanwhile, Lucy Ilyas (’26) said she and her co-leader chose to present a workshop on nuclear weapons because it allowed them to research a topic of interest that is not covered in their classes.

“It’s given us an opportunity to talk about something that we find really interesting,” Ilyas said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be a class where we can do research and give a presentation on nuclear ethics otherwise.”

Planning process

Brooks said aside from workshop planning, the committee also needs to arrange a keynote speaker, which the committee begins finding in September since it often takes time to find a speaker available and willing to come to the school.
Moreover, Brooks said SJC is incorporating a simulation period into the schedule this year, which will include a social justice-based challenge paired with other activities such as case studies and learning about current events.

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a class where we can do research and give a presentation on nuclear ethics otherwise.”

— Lucy Ilyas (’26)

Perrotis said in order to prepare adequately for Aequitas Day and the complexity of his topic, he and his co-leaders have created a straightforward presentation for their workshop.

“We have created a slideshow with various information and prepared simulations for students to kind of see what the process is like of convicting someone on genocide,” Perrotis said. “We’re trying our best to make it as simple as possible so everyone can understand the difficulties surrounding defining genocide legally.”

Aequitas importance and objectives

Holmberg said the main objective of Aequitas is for students to participate in activities connected to social justice.

“Aequitas was founded nine years ago mainly to talk about equity and social justice overall and bring it to the high school community so that everyone can engage in some justice topics,” Holmberg said.

In addition, Holmberg said Aequitas serves as a learning experience even if students aren’t particularly interested in the topics being presented.

“Even if you’re not passionate about social justice, just sit there and listen to students, underclassmen, upperclassmen who are sharing with you something they’re passionate about,” Holmberg said. “The main goal is that everyone takes away something and learns something new.”

Likewise, Wallace said it’s an “opportunity for students to be able to present something that they’re passionate about” and is a way to conduct “teaching and learning between students in the community.”

Wallace also said the workshops help students cultivate various skills that benefit all participants.

“It builds a lot of skills not only for the person presenting but the people in the audience.”

Overall, Perrotis said leading an Aequitas workshop provides students with a good opportunity to practice their presentational and communicative skills.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone to practice speaking to people and also learn how to explain problems because it is very difficult to explain a problem well,” Perrotis said. “You need to build context, you need to give evidence, you need to give reasons as to why there’s a problem… if you want to fix something, you must fall in love with a problem and offer a solution.”

 

Charlie Fennelly, Roman Prosperi and Rahil Punshi contributed to reporting.

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About the Contributors
Ella Friel, Opinions Editor: Print
Ella Friel (’25) is the Opinions Editor: Print for The Standard. She began journalism in Grade 9 when she joined the paper as a staff writer and has enjoyed being able to write stories and express her opinions on the publication ever since. Outside of the newsroom, Friel is a member of the Community Action Council and enjoys spending her time volunteering and playing tennis.
Rudi Chamria, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online
Rudi Chamria (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online of The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 as a staff writer because she enjoys connecting with people through interviewing and utilizing her platform to highlight underrepresented voices. In addition to her role on The Standard, Chamria leads the Social Justice Council, plays tennis and engages in community service.

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