By Jeanne Kim,
The Race and Social Justice (RSJ) Symposium Night, an annual showcase of research projects held on Tuesday, May 17, was the culmination of a year of work for Davis High RSJ students.
The tradition of sharing the RSJ research project’s results with the community was started about seven years ago by local civil rights activist Jann Murray-Garcia.
“[Murray-Garcia] suggested some sort of forum so that we could have students all their work be displayed in one spot and invite the community,” RSJ teacher Kevin Williams explained.
The tradition encouraged students to delve deeper into subjects they were interested in and and gave them the chance to analyze specific issues related to student actions at DHS or larger social justice issues.
Junior Ariana Rosen, whose project focused on sexual harassment, explained how her group chose its topic.
“Sexual harassment is something pretty prevalent in today’s society and something that a lot of teenage girls in particular talk about,” Rosen said. “Like catcalling on the streets, and there’s a lot of talk about it on social media so it’s something that we wanted to look into.”
In addition, the RSJ project created opportunities for growth in participation in groups projects.
“I’d say this is probably the biggest group project I’ve ever done, so I think that’s definitely given me some experience on how to work with groups in the future […] and how to take quantitative versus qualitative data,” junior Racha Elsbach said.
Even though the project was stressful at times, students had positive comments about the experience.
“In the beginning, the whole project stressed me out because there’s a ton of work to be done and when I saw the list of assignments we had to complete I kinda got overwhelmed, but now that it’s over it’s kind of ridiculous because I’m looking at the board and like ‘this is what we spent the entire year on!’ but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out,” junior Hallie Lassiter said.
RSJ teacher Fern O’Brien was also impressed with the students’ accomplishments.
“I think what is most fascinating is as the groups were presenting, students would ask questions about the topic but they would also ask about how they gathered their data,” O’Brien said. “And they asked ‘how many surveys’ or ‘what did you ask’ and ‘did you think about asking it this way,’ so it’s like the wheels are turning about how to actually do this in a variety of topics, and I just thought that it was really great. It shows that they really learned how to do this process, even though it’s a small piece of what you might eventually do.”