Affinity groups and alliances were both created to support minority students at Pace. What is the difference between an alliance and an affinity group? Well, alliances such as the Black Student Alliance (BSA), Hispanic Student Alliance (HSA), Asian Student Alliance (ASA) and Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) are student-led. Affinity spaces, however, are adult-facilitated. Affinity groups offered at Pace are the Black, African American, African Diaspora Affinity Group (BAAAD), Not Your Model Asian Affinity Group (NYMAG), Hispanic-Latinx Affinity Group, LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, Jewish Affinity Group and new this year, a Multi-Racial Affinity Group. While anyone can join an alliance to stand in solidarity with their peers, to be a part of an affinity group, one must share that identity.
Alliances are student-led clubs working to bring awareness to issues that a certain group faces, or even just to educate others on culture, religion or background. Senior Pranavh Pradeep is launching the brand-new Asian Student Alliance with classmates Samuel Alkire and Kargil Behl. The group will strive to “educate one another about different Asian cultures across numerous regions,” Pradeep said.
According to Senior Allison Silverboard, co-leader of the Gender Sexuality Alliance, the group hopes to “extend [their] influence from just the upper school to the entire Pace community and the Atlanta area.” The GSA will hold its second annual Pride Week from Oct. 25-29, which will include educational presentations and activities. Additionally, the alliance works with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office to add resources about gender and sexuality on the Pace Academy website.
Affinity groups, however, are not education-focused. “There’s no reason for me to try to tell you about your own identity,” Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Joanne Brown explained. “In these groups, you get to be affirmed. You don’t have to explain to anyone why you’re feeling how you’re feeling. Challenges that people who share an identity face are often similar, so in a safe space they are able to talk about their own challenges with a group that may share the same experience.” Students looking for a place to discuss difficulties that they face, whether at Pace or elsewhere, can reach out to Ms. Brown about joining an affinity group.
Ms. Shakila Williams, co-leader of the Black, African American, African Diaspora Affinity Group, says that “the goal every year is to create a safe space and support students’ needs.” This year, Ms. Williams is also excited to explore classic Black and African films as a group. “We can think about everything happening in our country and how these films speak to those things. The kids can take away from these films and connect them to their own experiences,” Williams explained.
This year in the Jewish Affinity Group, Mr. Robert Kaufman hopes to “not only educate ourselves about our rich identity, culture and faith, but also to champion the positive aspects of it and celebrate what makes us diverse.” Last year, the Jewish Affinity group hosted successful Shabbat dinners outside of school across grades 9-12. This year, Kaufman hopes to build on this success by celebrating other holidays such as Passover or Purim together as a Pace community.
For Pace students who want to educate themselves on different cultures, find a safe space or even just support fellow classmates, affinity groups and alliances are available.