Letter to the Editor: AHS equity survey from a student perspective

Recently, Aspen High School principal Sarah Strassburger has been getting negative comments and backlash from AHS parents that are upset about the Equity Survey students were asked to take in early April.

Parents are upset because some CREW teachers told students it was mandatory, Strassburger was allegedly breaking the law because she gave a survey that included information about race, sex, age, etc. The optional Equity Survey was given to students as a way to obtain information about the student population and how safe they feel in the school from many different perspectives.

This issue was not brought to the attention of the AHS administration, but instead to State Representative Joyce Rankin, at which point Rankin wrote a letter to the editor in the Pagosa Springs newspaper, the Pagosa Daily Post, discussing Strassburger and the issues that arose. Strassburger then responded to the letter in the Pagosa Daily Post, explaining her perspective.

There was also a letter to the editor in the Aspen Times about the AHS principal, and a response. As a student at AHS, I want to provide my perspective.. The letter states:

All of the adults have been talking, it’s time a student shares their voice.

Dear Readers,

My name is Kayla Tehrani, I am a junior at Aspen High School, and I’ve been following the recent exchange in the papers about the optional Equity Survey that AHS students were asked to take in early April.

The definition of equity is very different from the definition of equality. Equity isn’t giving everyone the same resources to achieve success, it is giving everyone the resources they need to succeed. The survey was to give every student what they need, no matter what it is. It is important that this survey happens so that the school is able to get a gauge on how students are feeling in the school, and if they think they’re in a safe environment when at school.

I am a student from a Muslim country. I am a student that is part of the small minority group in the school. I am a student that isn’t like many of the AHS students. This survey was not just about race. This survey was not a target at students like me, or a way to make white students feel bad about being white. It was a purely data based survey to get information, not to attack anyone.

The survey showed that height and weight had the greatest impact on students feeling isolated. That has nothing to do with race, age, sex, etc. This is something anyone, no matter how they look or how they identify, can relate to.

Because I come from Iran people assume that I’m a terrorist. Although I do come from a Muslim country, the stereotype that all Iranians must be terrorists means that just being myself and people knowing where I come from becomes an issue.

I have been called a terrorist in school multiple times, I have been told to go back to Iran. Each and every time, the administration has my back and supports me with this ongoing issue. AHS is working towards being the most inclusive and welcoming school, and that is all the Equity Survey is about.

As a person of color, as someone who is a minority, I find surveys like this helpful in making the place that I am required to be – five days a week – a place that people would like to be, and somewhere students feel safe and comfortable going to. Some individuals are scared of the words “equity” and “equality”, and that is what is making the community a more exclusive place. All of the hate and negativity towards AHS and the administration is uncalled for and unnecessary. Please stop attacking the school for trying to do something good.