Here at Deerfield, we love applause. In fact, we love applause so much that any guest speaker or group who doesn’t get a standing ovation probably did something wrong. Applauding is a tradition that defines our community. We are a school that prides itself on our tradition and heritage.
I’d like to challenge the student body and faculty to view tradition under a more critical lens. Tradition is great when it serves to unify the students, faculty, and staff, and when it reminds us why we’re such a special community.
However, not all of our traditions serve this unifying purpose, and some of them can affect the student body in a divisive manner. While traditions such as Captain Deerfield or the secret societies don’t outwardly cause any harm to any one student (to my knowledge), I urge those reading this article to think about the messages that these traditions might send to some members of this community.
What kind of message does it send to our female and minority students when Captain Deerfield has always been a white male? Do the members of secret societies recognize how the very existence of their group helps contribute to a culture of exclusion and a “we run the school” attitude? Do these traditions accurately reflect our values as a community?
While Deerfield has changed greatly over the years, some aspects of our culture have remained the same, for better or for worse. Some traditions die hard, but out of their deaths can emerge newer and healthier ones that serve to support our core values and a common understanding.