By AKUL GUPTA, TATUM MAPES, INARA KHANKASHI, and JAZUI MEJI
Students For Change meets to discuss issues of inequality and oppression on a weekly basis. A contributor to the group’s rapid growth is the widespread advocacy of the aforementioned social justice movement. This club provides an outlet for students to discuss social issues that are not only affecting the other side of the country, but their home towns and school as well. Having started in the 2020-21 school year, Students For Change has already made significant waves in the Redlands Unified School District.
Daniel Waters, a senior at Redlands East Valley, says, “Not many people know what their gender identity and sexuality even mean. I know firsthand that my cousin does not feel safe about telling most people who they really are. I wanted to join Wildcats for Change to help stop the hate and discrimination against people like them. I represent a group in football players/athletes that is hardly known for accepting others, but I want to change the trend and inspire other athletes to use their power to advocate for everyone. I hope that this program inspires everyone to be better to each other by promoting acceptance, education, and love. I hope that more teachers will take action to establish that everyone is welcome and that no one should be made to feel inferior. I hope that more students will take the initiative to unite in uplifting each other. I think that our potential is unlimited and I hope that moving forward, more schools will adopt a similar program.”
Among the students, Terriers for Justice represents the change needed in their schools to advance conversations surrounding discrimination. At Redlands High School, student Kiara Choi said, “Personally, I believe that this group will make it easier to talk about inequality at schools. This is not an average school club; controversial topics that many may find uncomfortable will be discussed, and I think that this is an amazing opportunity for Redlands schools to educate their students on the hardships of different cultures in America.”
At RHS, teacher Lauren Holcombe stated, “I am incredibly honored to be one of the teachers to help lead this initiative. I have been so impressed by the maturity of the students in this group and their desire to work so hard to be leaders in both their school and their community to bring about positive changes when it comes to social injustice.”
Teacher Peter Cain, also from RHS, stated, “In my view, educators have a duty to listen to their students and make them feel they are all equal on campus and in their communities.”
More and more students have recognized the gross disparities within their school system, reflective of a much larger, grander issue within society. Schools in California recognize the statistical issue, which presents itself even within RUSD. An overarching issue unites a multitude of stakeholders within the Redlands community, as the school district recently banded together to create an initiative that aims to lessen the terrible impact of racism, systemic, structural and pervasive within the campuses.
Inara Khankashi of Blackhawks for Change said, “The K-12 Education system should educate students on issues relating to diversity and equality within their communities, and encourage the youth to embrace antiracism as an integral part of maturity.”
Students for Change consists of multiple high schools: Redlands East Valley High School, Citrus Valley High School, Redlands High School and Redlands eAcademy. They have created a collective movement for change, fueling the desire for equality and development to ensure every student receives equal treatment and opportunities. Students within the region have decided that silence can no longer respond to the apparent injustices and instances of racism on school campuses.
Featured photo: The official logo for Wildcats 4 Change. While this logo is used to represent students from Redlands East Valley, they are also part of the collective movement of Students for Change. (Photo courtesy of Wildcats 4 Change)