–Julian Braxton, Director of Community and Inclusion
We try to teach girls how important it is to actively and positively define yourself and how risky it is to allow others to define who you are, what your ability is, how much you are worth, or what you believe.
As stated in Winsor’s Principles of Diversity, “The school affirms, teaches, and values a belief in the dignity and humanity of every person and a commitment to understanding individual and group differences.” Winsor’s affinity groups support this important principle. Affinity groups can be an important step toward inclusion in that the group allows students who might otherwise suppress their identities to feel proud and confident; the affinity group provides a platform from which girls who are culturally different from the majority can confidently be themselves and not feel pressured to conform. (It is important to note that there are girls at Winsor who are culturally different from the majority and feel joy, comfort and pride without an affinity group.) SISTERS, AsIAm, SOMOS, MOSAIC, and The First Generation Experience provide an opportunity for those families and girls who want it to connect positively to their own ethnic/cultural identity.
Building authentic relationships with people from all backgrounds is critically important at Winsor, and separation can at first seem counter to our goals as a school. It is important to remember that Winsor girls live and learn in mixed groups for the vast majority of their time at school each day; most affinity groups meeting during a 35-minute affinity group meeting each rotation during lunch (and on selected reading periods in the Lower School) helps some girls feel more connected, visible, and included. We want everyone to trust and understand that we are enhancing, not thwarting, our efforts to build a joyous and multicultural community. No acronym or term is a perfect description of people’s wonderful and complex ethnic and cultural identities; therefore, we leave it to each family and girl to self-identify. No one will be turned away.
An affinity group is a group of people that shares a common experience. The purpose of an affinity group is to strengthen the community by increasing the ways a person can find connection, support, and voice at Winsor starting with smaller groups of people who want to connect on specific areas of experience or identity.
Currently, we have five formal affinity group programs in the Upper School at Winsor specifically designed to create a space for students who identify as part of an underrepresented group at Winsor experience being in a numerical majority. SISTERS is an affinity group for black students, AsIAm is an affinity group for students of Asian and South Asian descent, and SOMOS is an affinity group for Latinx students. MOSAIC is a safe space for those with two or more conflicting identities in how they navigate the world. If you want to go to (or have already attended) another affinity group at Winsor, but feel that it is only part of your identify, this is a place to share your experiences. Winsor's newly founded affinity group The First Generation Experience will focus on the challenges of the Immigrant Experience. The group is meant for Winsor students who are immigrants and for people whose parents immigrated to America. The group strives to create a safe and respectful environment where immigrant and first-generation students discuss and unpack their identities. There are plans underway for a Muslim affinity group and South Asian affinity group. SISTERS, AsIAm, SOMOS, MOSAIC, and The First Generation Experience provide an opportunity for girls who want to connect positively to their own ethnic/cultural identity. Attendance is completely voluntary. Students often talk about how their participation in affinity groups has been key to their identity development. In the Lower School, we have two affinity groups, AsIAm and SISTERS and SOMOS meet as one group.
Your daughter’s division head and the Director of Community and Inclusion, Julian K. Braxton are all available for conversation. Contact information may be found in the Family Handbook or on the website.