Students express frustration after some fill DEI assembly Zoom chat with unrelated expressions

A chart generated by student responses from the assembly revealed many students who did not take the activity seriously. The prompt was

Screengrab from assembly

A chart generated by student responses from the assembly revealed many students who did not take the activity seriously. The prompt was "What aspects of your identity do you wish were more affirmed at Lab?"

Adrianna Nehme, Reporter

At the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion assembly Sept. 8, students in grades 10-12 gathered to exchange their ideas about how to make Lab a more inclusive environment, but while some students actively participated, others filled the Zoom chat with phrases and symbols that were unrelated to the ongoing discussion.

Screengrab from Snapchat story
The Snapchat story senior Lea Rebollo Baum posted on her account attracted lots of attention and reposts from similarly concerned classmates.

Students including senior Lea Rebollo Baum expressed their opinions regarding the situation on social media. She wrote a statement on Snapchat highlighting how students should refrain from being disruptive during a Zoom meeting, especially during a DEI session.

“Next time you’re in a Zoom meeting, be respectful and appreciate the time it took to put it together, and acknowledge the fact that other people there want to listen and learn, not read your unnecessary comments,” Lea wrote on her account.

In an interview, Lea said the meeting’s safe space quickly turned into an unsafe and uncomfortable environment for some students. 

“DEI is very important and is something that we always need to work on as a Lab community,” Lea said, “and having it be disrupted like that, especially on the first day of school, was really upsetting.”  

Lea’s response received attention immediately after she posted it, and students began to repost it on their own social media accounts. Other students created their own posts that expressed similar feelings, and a few pointed out their disappointment toward members of the Senior Class as they were expected to act as role models to the younger students.

One frustrated student was Destiney Williamson, a senior who is also a DEI peer facilitator.

“We all had the same idea whether it was expressed differently or not that the things just weren’t acceptable, especially in the Senior Class because we are like 17 and 18 years old,” Destiney said. 

Sophomore Esme Oliver contributed to the chat box during the assembly, but after hearing the backlash against the event, they said they felt bad not knowing that the impact would be so harmful. They did, however, recognize that some chat box messages crossed the line. 

Esme didn’t contribute to those, and they said they regret participating in the chat box during times that weren’t relevant. 

“I don’t think that I had any intention of being part of that,” Esme said. “I didn’t realize that it was going to have that kind of impact because I just saw people doing it and I was like, ‘I might as well do this too because I don’t really know what to do here.”

After three of these events happened at our school last year and this year, and this one occurring on our first day of school. It’s just really… this can’t happen.”

— Adi Badlani

An automatic email is available through the Student Council website that can be customized and sent to the administration to express their views about the topic and implore the administration to take immediate and direct actions to prevent a recurrence.

Senior Adi Badlani, who is also the all-school vice president, said he hopes this email conveys the message that students want this situation to be addressed and want the entirety of the student body to learn from it.

“We need to learn from these first and foremost by addressing them,” Adi said. “After three of these events happened at our school last year and this year, and this one occurring on our first day of school. It’s just really… this can’t happen.”

This story was updated at 7:49 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2020.