To discuss differences and similarities between races and cultures, there is Cultural Alliance. To talk about topics concerning homophobia there is Gay-Straight Alliance. However, until recently, there has never been a club or group to discuss issues related to sexism on campus. For an issue that has recently been one of much concern, it only seemed appropriate for such a group to be established. Hence, the Sister’s Agency Boost was formed.
“Sister’s Agency is meant to be a safe place where anybody can come to talk about what it is like to be a girl or the effects of being a girl within and outside of Groton’s bubble,” says Olivia Ladd-Luthringshauser, one of the founding members of the group.
It all started on a trip to get ice cream. A group of forth form girls, including Daisy Collins, Layla Varkey, Rein Irving, and Olivia were discussing the recent issues on campus relating to sexism. They decided that they wanted to continue this discussion, thus leading to the establishment of Sister’s Agency Boost. Olivia’s mother, who teaches Media Literacy and Communication theory, mediates the discussions. Ms. Dennsion and Ms. Lincoln represent the faculty. So far there have been two meetings of Sister’s Agency. Both have been full of discussions, debates, and conversations pertaining to sexism on campus and what can be done treat it.
While the group is still at the discussion stage, the girls hope to inspire a transformation in the Groton community. As Daisy Collins puts it, “We were hoping that a lot of girls would feel comfortable coming and that when they notice sexism in a roll call announcement or at the dinner table that it not only gives them the power to recognize it, but to also speak up.”
The program’s purpose is not only to lead interesting discussions that help girls recognize sexism when they see it, but also to empower girls. “We want girls to feel that it is not wrong to stand up for themselves,” says Layla. For the group, it is not only a matter of recognizing problems, but changing them as well. The aim of the group is to perpetuate a new way for girls to view themselves and each other. Sister’s Agency Boost also aspires to change the expectations for girls on campus as well as a sexualized culture. To induce this change, Sister’s Agency Boost has started bystander training, which helps Groton students learn how to react to sexist comments in the most effective way possible.
Though the group stresses the empowerment of female members of the community, Rein also emphasizes the role that male members of the community have in effecting change as well. “It is important that boys also attend the meetings to contribute and to listen. The girls need to feel as though their voices are being heard,” says Daisy. Sister’s Agency Boost hopes to heighten the sensitivity of boys to comments made around the Circle by encouraging them to listen to how the girls feel when hearing these comments. The group also plans to have a male faculty advisor as a statement that boys are welcome to add their perspectives too. The boys would not form a separate group, but work in partnership with the girls. Bruce Ramphal, one of the boys who attended the meetings, says that it is important for the boys to “try to hear both sides and to learn to think before speaking.” He expresses that the Groton community can only develop if the effort is two-sided, and it is important for the boys to join the efforts of the Sister’s Agency Boost.
While Sister’s Agency Boost has adjourned its meetings for this year, it will definitely have more of a presence on the Circle next year as it moves from discussion to activities and spectacles. The group hopes to make a difference on campus, as well as include boys in the meetings. In a joint effort to make Groton School better, it is sure that Sister’s Agency Boost will meet much success.