Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

DEI leadership sees notable additions

New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ambassadors serve as an increase to the DEI program.
Finley Keeffe
JuanCarolos Arauz in the DEI office. Arauz has spearheaded Branson’s DEI mission since 2019

Since the hiring of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director, JuanCarlos Arauz, four years ago, Branson has been actively striving to increase the diversity among its faculty and student body and ensure that every member of the community feels welcomed and supported. 

Most recently, Arauz has introduced student leadership into his work by selecting an admissions committee from the student body. 

In previous years, the DEI committee consisted of only a few students. It has expanded to seven students for this school year. While selecting these seven additions, Arauz attempted to add a diversity of races to the committee. In the program, there are several candidates who represent different minorities. 

Tom Lardner ‘25, was recently selected as an ambassador of the newly introduced committee. Lardner explained that the diversity among the DEI leaders ensures that the student body feels represented by someone of the same ethnicity. 

“With so much diversity within the committee, it allows every student to be represented by a DEI leader,” Lardner said.

As the only non-student of color among the staff, Lardner’s responsibility is to be a supporter to the entire student body and to use his voice to advocate. 

“As the only white representative among the staff, it is my duty to act as an ally to everybody,” Lardner said.

Along with adding a diversity of students, Arauz has altered the structure of the program. The committee is now separated into three sectors: ambassadors, interns and leaders. 

A DEI intern’s responsibility is to “interpret DEI internally” at Branson, and to “look at the statistics and what is systemically inequitable.” Arauz said that ambassadors are students who like to talk publicly about DEI and publicize their work and responsibilities. Lastly, the leaders are the students who manage and oversee the DEI committee as a whole. 

Because the program has shifted to being more student-run, this allowed the opportunity to expand outside of Branson. As the organizer of this program, Arauz has been able to schedule DEI conferences across the country. He believes that hearing the opinions and experiences of people from different places and environments is crucial for one’s understanding of inequity. 

“We want our DEI leaders to be able to go somewhere different, learn leadership skills, meet some people different from them in different communities, and we hope for them to bring what they have learned back to our Branson community,” Arauz said.

While traveling across the country, Arauz hopes his committee will gather leadership skills and develop a deeper understanding of DEI.

“We will be attending the listening conference in Chicago, and we feel that a great leader is a great listener, and a few other students will be going to St. Louis for the Student Diversity Leadership Conference,” Arauz said.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Finley Keeffe
Finley Keeffe, Writer