BSSC students come from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Creating a shared sense of belonging is the fundamental role of the newly created Inclusion Ambassadors. This group will also reinforce that harassment and discrimination have no place at our college. The ‘faces’ of BSSC inclusion are these 30 Ambassadors.
“Because of the size and diversity of our college, we are trying to keep the idea of inclusiveness front and centre,” Eve said. “So discrimination can’t fester at all.”
These students chose to become Ambassadors for different reasons. Rose joined because she wanted to make a difference to those she knows are struggling. Chloe joined so she could learn about—and make connections with—all the diverse groups at BSSC.
“It’s especially important to connect with the international students,” she said. “I feel like there can, at times, be quite a divide between international and local students.”
One of the great strengths of the program is that it is mediated by students equipped to recognise and diffuse discrimination or harassment.
“Being students ourselves makes us very approachable,” Ecky said.
Jess agreed… “But we need to show that we are trustworthy and not pushy—even though I get really mad when I hear negative comments about asylum seekers!”
So, how serious a problem is this issue for our college?
“Some students already get it,” Nigheisha said, “but some don’t even realise that feeling excluded is a big problems for certain students.”
Joelle recently challenged a friend who was being discriminatory to LGBTI people.
“I told him how bad it can make someone feel—at least he stopped and thought about it.”
Developing a concern for positive attitudes to others is a position students have reached via different pathways. One student commented that she had been pulled up by a friend years ago over a narrow-minded comment.
“It was the first time I had been challenged to think about the implications of words,” she said. “I want others to be more aware, even if I can’t change their minds.”
Heroes for this group include: Emma Watson (using her star status to draw attention to inclusion issues); Rosa Parks (activist in the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s); and BTS (a Korean Boy Band whose songs are messages about these kinds of issues).
Reflecting on the world stage also provides examples of countries that are acting both to damage connection and inclusion—and to create it.
“If we look to the US as a superpower, we see the Palestinian crisis but we also see the easing of tension between North and South Korea,” Ecky pointed out.
Overall, there is optimism among this group.
“I think young people are much more willing to look at the issue of inclusion and I hope that as we get older that we’ll bring in real change,” Eve said.
Callum agreed. “At the local level, community and school groups are doing well with this.”
The message from our Inclusion Ambassadors is a simple one:
“If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to come up to one of us. Our names are on the website so please get in touch.” Go to: http://www.bssc.edu.au/students/wellbeing/