Stuyvesant’s Black Student League (BSL) held its third annual Diversity Open House on Monday, September 10, from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. The event, which received assistance from ARISTA, Big Sib, and Red Cross volunteers, is part of the BSL’s ongoing effort to diversify the school and educate prospective minority students and their families on the application process and the opportunities offered at Stuyvesant. The event occurred just prior to the announcement of a federal complaint filed by the civil rights groups citing the low percentage of Black and Hispanic students at specialized high school as evidence that the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is racially biased.
Though unaware of the federal complaint, the organizers of the Diversity Open House created the event to increase the presence of underrepresented ethnic and racial groups at Stuyvesant. “We are targeting a more diverse group that includes African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and other minorities,” junior and Vice President of the BSL Nick Kaidoo said. “We want to encourage them to take more initiative, to prepare more [for the SHSAT].”
Student volunteers led tours for three to four families at a time. “Tours of the school started from the 10th floor and we worked our way down,” junior and Red Cross member Julie Zhu said. “There was a lower turnout than expected, but the feedback was positive. They asked about the different clubs and courses offered,” she said.
“[The tour’s] diversity not only applied to ethnicity, but also to academics,” junior and ARISTA member Shannon Daniels said. “Coming in, they might have seen Stuyvesant as very competitive, harsh, and unfriendly with an extreme workload, but we explained the various programs that would help them adjust and feel welcome.”
Families were also taken to speak with guidance counselors and Parent Coordinator Harvey Blumm, if they chose to do so. Afterwards, the parents were invited to attend a Question and Answer session with Interim Acting Principal Jie Zhang and Blumm, where most questions dealt with the SHSAT and other admissions inquiries.
SPARK counselor Angel Colon and the BSL hope events like this Open House will help to clear Stuyvesant’s reputation in the media. They view this as an opportunity to expose a positive initiative within the school and emphasize to prospective students that Stuyvesant is still a worthy high school destination.
“We want this open house to send the message that though this school does have its problems, they can be fixed,” Kaidoo said.
“Instead of being in the news for all these negative things, I want our school to get more attention for all the positive, good things that we do,” Colon said.