Affinity Groups Not Clubs: Know the Difference

Emily Bernhardt Since clubs and affinity groups were each given their own separate meeting times, many students have asked, “what’s the difference between the two?” Despite being grouped together in the past, clubs and affinity groups are different for a multitude of reasons. Julian Lee Zacheis, a sophomore and member of two affinity groups, explains that, “clubs and affinity groups are fundamentally different things. A club is a choice, based on interests not covered in school, while affinity groups are a place to deal with struggles due to things you can’t control.” A common misconception at Latin is that these “things you can’t control” are limited to only ethnicity and race. Groups like GSM (Gender and Sexuality Minority) are examples of other types of affinity groups. Affinity groups mean different things to different people, and one student said that, “calling an affinity group just a club is not only demeaning to that group, but is also inaccurate.” The flex time on Day Three has been given a new meaning, and the change has an even larger impact on Latin’s community than many could’ve guessed. Although affinity groups and clubs are clearly not the same, some groups have started to face difficulty defining themselves as one of the two categories. Layla Passman, a head of LAW (Latin’s Alliance for Women), states that, “LAW has been working hard to determine if we’re a club or affinity group. We are mostly a club, because we are an alliance for women not of women,” meaning that though they “focus on issues that women face at Latin, this country, and globally.” However, their club meetings are not limited to only those who identify as women. However, during affinity group blocks their open discussions will be “exclusively” for women. With this newly allotted time specifically for affinity groups to meet, new affinity groups have formed like Fusion (for individuals who identify as multi-racial) and YWOC (Young Women of Color). New members are also constantly joining or considering existing affinity groups, because they no longer clash with the clubs that they’re also committed to. Lia Kim shares that, “This new carved out time has encouraged me to– for the first time– meet with my affinity group.” Without a doubt, Lia is not the only student who has made this decision. Because of the new schedule change, as well as the freshmen class, LAW has gained “about 50 new members.” Ms. Diorio notes that, “more people are able to attend the affinity groups since the new block.” The power of these new members has not gone unnoticed; club heads and teachers appreciate the overwhelming amount of support that they have been receiving this year. Now, Latin students are able to pursue their many interests while also reaching out to an understanding group who they share similarities with. Though often overlooked, affinity groups have the potential to change and improve the Latin community, allowing a space for discussion as well as a platform to raise awareness for a variety of causes. Lia Kim describes the affinity group that she identifies with as a, “comfortable and safe place [that allows] students to freely discuss their experiences at Latin as a student of their race.” Layla Passman said that the purpose of an affinity group is to, “focus on one aspect of someone’s identity and creates a space specifically for that identifier.” Because of the schedule change, now more students have the option to partake in experiences like Lia and Layla’s. Lia Kim, as well as many others, hopes that their peers are encouraged to reach out to their affinity groups and take advantage of this new opportunity, as she has recently. ]]>