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Affinity Lunches: Building Connections and Fostering Understanding

Affinity Lunches: Building Connections and Fostering Understanding

At the heart of any thriving educational community is a commitment to addressing the concerns and needs of its students. Affinity Lunches at Eagle Rock have emerged as a responsive and iterative initiative to create spaces where students and staff can connect, share experiences, and unpack complex issues surrounding topics like gender and power structures.

Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee recognizes the importance of providing safe and supportive spaces for students to explore their identities and engage in meaningful conversations. To address and ease tensions on campus & to accommodate gender spaces on campus, we provided a platform for both students and staff to share their perspectives and engage in dialogue to build understanding. The exchange of ideas between different age groups and generations proved to be particularly enlightening, as it allowed for a broader perspective on various issues.

Eating & Learning

One of the most significant benefits of these Affinity Lunches was the opportunity for students to ask difficult questions and receive advice from individuals with more diverse and varied experiences. The lunch sessions provided a supportive environment where tough questions were bravely tackled. Some topics explored included:

  • Power structures and the patriarchy

  • Intersectionality in race and gender

  • Building trust and fostering healthy relationships

Student-Staff Connections

Before the launch of Affinity Lunches, staff at Eagle Rock had been engaging in DEI learning separately. The next phase brings staff and students together to further this work.  These lunches helped facilitate student engagement and growth through discussions where staff were able to participate as discussion participants led by students. Allowing students the opportunity to lead discussions has opened further conversation about how students and staff can work in partnership in a way that values the intersecting identities that each individual brings to the table.

The creation and success of these affinity lunches are a testament to Eagle Rock’s commitment to inclusivity, understanding, and personal growth. By fostering an environment where all voices are ideally heard and valued, we are nurturing a generation of compassionate, empathetic, and socially conscious individuals who will go on to create positive change in their communities and beyond.