Often, when peers find out I’m a day student, I get the response, “Really? You don’t look like a day student.” I think that sums up how the school integrates day students into the boarding community perfectly.
When people say that to me, I don’t usually say anything back (I mean, what do you say to that, “Thanks?”) but it most definitely gets me thinking about day student policies at Deerfield, and how day students are perceived and included on campus.
Obviously, there is a split between the day and boarding communities. I don’t just mean mathematically, either. Socially, it’s hard to integrate yourself into the boarding community, which is the majority of the school. There are tons of weekend activities and events that happen on campus that I can’t go to on the weekends, and I often have the feeling of missing out on things with my friends.
Academically, it’s hard to find times to meet with teachers for extra help, especially when activities outside of Deerfield come into the picture, which a lot of the time they do for day students. If study groups, clubs, or rehearsals meet on the weekend or after dinner, there’s a very big chance that I won’t go.
I’m sure I’m not alone in pointing out these difficulties that the day community faces. For a lot of day students, coming to school takes a substantial amount time out of the day, and on top of homework and other extra-curricular activities that students participate in, it becomes a lot.
In terms of inclusivity in the dorms, I feel that Deerfield doesn’t put in any effort.
As a new sophomore I was lucky; I was associated with Harold Smith, which had a whole day student closet to keep things in. Since my sophomore year, however, not only have I noticed how much of a chasm there is between day and boarding students but also how difficult the school makes it to feel included in the community. It’s hard enough missing feeds and hall bonding experiences without having to stress about where I’m going to keep my things every day.
In each dorm, there is no designated day student area, as at many other private schools. So I always find myself asking my friends awkwardly, “Can I keep this in your room?” and with that question comes a sense of guilt. Why? Because of the community’s attitude.
I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty that I live at home, especially at a place where I take and add a lot to the community. But every time I have to ask that question, or every time I walk by a common room and see that there isn’t an area where we can put our things, I feel bad that I’m day student. I feel unwelcome.
At other schools, there are things like day student rooms, even dresser-drawers for day students to use. I will admit that the DSL is a designated place to put our things; but, if Deerfield really is a community, and stresses integration of every student, why can’t the place where day students keep things be in the community, not isolated from everyone else? I shouldn’t feel guilty about living at my house. But I feel that way every day, because Deerfield does very little to accommodate its day students in an inclusive way. If the school has enough money to build a new Arts Center and a new boys’ dorm, I feel that they should have enough money to accommodate its day students, or else why have us here?