As the black father of one daughter who recently graduated from University High School, I am compelled to respond to the article entitled "Times Change, but Girls' League Endures" (Orange County Life, Jan. 16). The article raises several concerns. It promotes the myth that Girls' League has changed from its discriminatory beginning to become "fully integrated." Girls' League at University High School is not now and has never been "fully integrated." If the club were "fully integrated," it would have representation from ALL sectors of the student body. The article clearly states that University High School has 10 Asians among its 30 elected students. Does this mean that black and Hispanic students attending the school are non-entities? Are these minorities only to be considered when it is advantageous to do so, such as for recognition as a National Distinguished High School?
Despite the increasing numbers of black students, only one black has been elected to Girls' League at University in the last five years. This does not reflect "full integration!" It is difficult to understand why black female students successfully mastering the district's rigorous academic honors program, participating in school activities and involved in meaningful community-based programs do not meet the criteria for election to Girls' League unless color of skin is an unwritten criteria for election. This unfortunate situation creates two losers: 1) the bright, talented black girls who have much to contribute to University High School and 2) the University High School student body, faculty and staff who have much to gain from exposure to the emerging black female leaders of the future.
Unfortunately, in the newspaper article, the adviser is also a participant in the selectivity and elitism of Girls' League at University High School. She reasons that a "limited number of members ensures tasks will be completed." Anyone who has worked with high school-aged students or, for that matter, any group of individuals, should be aware that it is the commitment of the individual, not group size, that assures the successful completion of tasks. In any group there are a few dedicated and tireless workers. The remainder of the group is comprised of individuals with various levels of commitment who may or may not complete their assignments.
Despite the denials of individuals involved with Girl's League, how can a group of 30 girls at University High School be considered anything but elitist? After all, this is a school of almost 2,000 students. Yet, by the article on Girls' League, we are led to believe that only 30 girls in the entire school possess the unique leadership skills required for election to Girls' League, none of whom are black.
As a parent, I applaud the students for their academic accomplishments. Annually, at least 15 University High School seniors are selected as National Merit Scholars. Over 20% of the graduating senior classes complete the academically demanding honors curriculum. Unfortunately, Girls' League is a detraction for the desired goal of increasing awareness of cultural diversity and sensitivity among the student body. Therefore, it is my opinion that University High School should follow the lead of (other) schools and drop election as the criteria for selection to Girls' League. The current practice leaves both Girls' League and University High School vulnerable to continued charges of elitism and racism.
--Claibourne I. Dungy, M.D., Irvine