Vital Spaces: Affinity Groups, Alliances and Allyship at Taft
Vital Spaces: Affinity Groups, Alliances and Allyship at Taft

Taft's Statement of Diversity and Inclusivity reminds us that we are an "intentionally diverse" community.

"Every single one of us in this room makes that true—you and every single identifier that you have," noted Dean of Community, Justice, and Belonging Thomas Allen during a Morning Meeting talk this week. "In this community—in this space—there is a place for you with others who share your identifier or identifiers. Find your space in either an alliance or affinity."

It is those spaces—Taft's affinity groups and alliances—that were at the core of Allen's talk. 

"Our affinity spaces are critical to the Taft experience," said Allen. "They are vital to the feeling of acceptance, community, and belonging that we strive for."

During his talk, Allen defined affinity groups and alliances, while addressing common questions and debunking myths about each. Affinity groups, he explained, bring together individuals with common identifiers. Those identifiers include things like race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, first language, religion or spiritual affiliation, national origin, immigrant status. 

"Why are these spaces important? They provide a safe space for group members; reduce feelings of isolation; help you embrace who you are; and help group members feel more visible in the community," Allen said. "Affinity groups allow a designated space where students or faculty can explore, celebrate a shared identity, and debrief common challenges and experiences group members of that identity face."

Alliances, on the other hand, gather individuals who may or may not share identifiers, but have a genuine, sincere interest in the issues facing a particular identity group, who want to support that group and serve as allies for its members. Allen noted that "to be an ally is to take on the struggle as your own; stand up, even when you feel scared; transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it; and acknowledge that while you, too, feel pain, the conversation is not about you."

"Come see me," Allen concluded. "Let's talk about where you fit. There is a space for you here at Taft."

Watch the full talk here: