At Moorestown Friends School, there are a wide range of stereotypes that affect each and every student, being that MFS is a private school in a suburban location that offers financial aid as well as scholarship programs. Students here represent many different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The lack of knowledge about peoples’ backgrounds has led to unintentional statements of prejudice. People assume that one person is of a certain socioeconomic status simply by what they are seen wearing, the electronics they may or may not own, the type of car their parents drive, and even the town they live in. Ignorance has led to all kinds of stereotypes, and we have projected them onto our peers.
Stereotypes are not generally addressed at MFS, which has allowed students to be ignorant to the effects of our actions. We don’t talk about them from learning or understanding standpoints, so we often offend others with stereotypes even if we aren’t intending to offend them.
I think we all have been guilty of categorizing peers and creating a box to fit them in based on initial observations. Simple factors that should not matter in the ‘friending process’ come into play because of our nature to judge. We as students need to be more educated on what socioeconomic status as well as other stereotypical topics are so that we can avoid situations where we offend one another.
On February 5, Diversity Committee hosted an event during assembly with the goal of welcoming students to openly speak about different stereotypes such as race, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status. While the activities and exercises may not have gotten to every Upper School student, it was an effective event, and many of the students were interested in taking part and speaking up.
If the overall attitude that was present during and after the event is maintained, the MFS student body will have a better understanding of socioeconomic status, which will hopefully bring us closer together.