City High establishes Multi-Ethnic Student Union

With students increasingly asking for student voice, administration collaborates to create a safe space for students to make change accessible.


Lulu Roarick

Deon Brown ’24, Jameer James ’24, and teacher Shamari Scott discuss plans for The Multi-Ethnic Student Union in the old commons.

Lulu Roarick and Marina Escandell

The Multi Ethnic Student Union is a new organization making a collaborative effort between students and faculty to support the diverse array of students that attend City High. The union aims to build a bridge between faculty and students, providing a safe space to advocate for, learn, and better their educational opportunities and experiences at City High. 

Maureen Beran, the co-creator of Multi Ethnic Student Union and a guidance counselor at City, emphasizes the importance of constant communication between students of different cultures, as well as staff. She wants the club to be inclusive and a chance for students to learn from one another. 

“We have a lot of goals [for MEST],” Beran said. “One of our goals is to help in creating a better culture when it comes to diversity and inclusion and also having a safe place where students from any culture can come in, have discussions, and learn from each other. I would say number one is just a safe place for students to come and talk about their experiences. The larger goal is just building a better relationship when it comes to culture amongst all students and staff.”

Recent events within the Iowa City School District point to the need for the group of students willing to speak out about their experiences, according to Beran. 

“With the recent situation that happened at West High, super unfortunate what happened, students felt unsafe. A lot of them attended board meetings to express how that made them feel, and then just general experiences that they have here in the district,” Beran said. “That was super important. We know students do not feel safe. Just like I said, provide them an opportunity. A place where they feel safe. They can talk more about their experiences and we can learn from each other. This will hopefully develop initiatives to move forward.” 

Gerry Coleman, the Dean of Students at City High and initial Co-Founder behind the Multi Ethnic Student Union, reached out to Beran when he was working to form the group. As of now, the club has officially met twice. They are making efforts to grow and advertise the club, and also reaching out to students who are interested. 

“We want it to be more student driven, so once we get things rolling it will be run by students. Now we’re just putting the pieces together,” Coleman said. 

Coleman’s ultimate goals for the group go beyond just having conversations. He wants the space to advocate for and assist students in their future educational endeavors, while also being a part of the community.

“We want it to be a space for students to talk about different things but we also want it to be something where we could do some community service or help kids get into college,” Coleman said. “Look at ways to continue their education after leaving high school. We have a lot of running ideas that will come to fruition once we put things together.”