A Common Thread
In the mid 1980s, affinity groups first began to form on campus, starting with the African-American Cultural Exchange (AACE), which created a welcoming space for students to share their common experiences and interests.
Since then, the number of campus affinity groups has grown, now with five groups on campus in addition to AACE, including the Organized LatinX Exchange (OLE), the LGBTQ+ Alliance, the Asian/Pacific Islander group Exploring Asian Societies Together (EAST), Mosaic, which celebrates Middle Eastern cultures, and the Jewish group Kehilah (meaning ‘congregation’ in Hebrew).
Gaby C. ’20 started Kehilah with Sophie D.-K. ’20 this year after wanting to see more acknowledgment of Holocaust Remembrance Day. “I decided that this was important to me and to my community and that I would be the student to create the group to advocate for an acknowledgment.”
“Affinity groups on campus are serving the entire school,” says Pamela Wright, Dean of Social Justice and Community Partnerships. “Students who participate in these groups report that these spaces are where they can be their most authentic selves. That shared experience of being a student, being in a room with people that you identify with, is so valuable.”
Emely G. ’19 felt a personal transformation once she attended her first OLE meeting at the encouragement of a Latina classmate.
“We were just talking about home remedies and Latin culture and I remember bringing up Vapor Rub," said Emely. "It's the remedy that every Mexican and Latin household uses for everything. And everyone was like, ‘me too! I totally get that!’ In that moment, I realized that I'd really been missing out on my Latina peers. It was nice to be at school and still be Latina and have people who understood that.”
Emely is now a leader of OLE with Blanca D. ’20 and Emily R. ’20. “My biggest goal right now is to make the younger students in the club feel comfortable with their identity. You can be loud about saying you’re Mexican or you’re Latina. I hope students become willing to talk about these serious topics and that they're willing to share their experiences.”
Marlborough's Affinity Groups also hold a special place in the hearts and minds of our alumnae.
“AACE provided an intimate and safe community space that nurtured a familial bond and camaraderie beyond the rigorous academic setting," said Eden Jeffries ’07. "Years later, I still feel connected to the people, the wonderful memories, and to a legacy that I hope the Marlborough community continues to recognize.”
Eden and Talia Caldwell ’09 want to extend this camaraderie beyond graduation. The pair recently launched @theblackviolets, an Instagram account created to help better connect African-American alumnae with each other, the school, and with today's students. They look forward to working with their fellow Violets to find other ways to support one another and strengthen their connections