Community is always stressed as one of Deerfield’s most important aspects. We talk about it all the time. Recently, teachers Kristen Loftus and Sam Bicknell talked to our dorm to introduce us to Connect 4. I’m very much in favor of speaking about difficult issues. However, I believe the forced approach of having students open up is unnecessary and unhelpful.
I found the freshmen peer counseling groups to be the worst experience of my Deerfield career. While I’m sure many students found it enlightening to learn about the dating scene and sports culture at Deerfield, I felt alienated. I didn’t have a problem which I needed to speak to a peer counselor about. My transition to Deerfield was fine; I just felt there wasn’t an alternative scene where I could belong.
Starting my freshman year, I found the Deerfield Diversity Alliances. These groups are, in my opinion, some of the most underused resources we have. This is where change starts. The camaraderie for a cause in these groups is more powerful than a simple conversation in the dorm.
Forcing students to talk once a month won’t solve Deerfield’s problems. What’s not great about bonding with the students in the dorm? Well, because I would have so many similarities to a lacrosse playing-country-club-member resident of Greenwich or New York City. It’s silly to think that we can all just bond if we get together once a month. I’m gay, I have beautiful tanned skin (thanks to my Mexican heritage), and my parents are immigrants.
Please don’t talk to me about the dating culture at Deerfield, but please explain to me why someone wrote “faggot” on my door at the beginning of my junior year. Now that’s where everyone gets uncomfortable. Say something is wrong with Deerfield and everyone starts running and looking to the hills.
I love Deerfield. I’ve been a tour guide for the past four years. However, to say we’re all similar is an illusion. Instead of working to make the entire student body bond, I suggest we take the time to make students realize that some of us are different. Some of us can’t pay the Deerfield tuition. Financial aid is a necessity for many families.
What I propose we focus on is an implicit contract of being in a “diverse” community, a relationship based on mutual respect and tolerance rather than being forced to identify with students whose only connection we share is the fact that we go to school together.