The Student Culture Forum maximized the number of students given an opportunity to speak. While there was a list of eight main student speakers, there was also time between each scheduled speech for audience input. The topics covered were just as numerous as the students who attended the forum, but eventually the discussion boiled down to three main topics—the roles of clothing, competition and the administration in Deerfield culture.
“I don’t think looking good is about brands,” Kade Johnson ’14 said. “People can make judgments about others’ appearances that aren’t based off of the price tag of their clothes.”
After several other students also addressed dress code as a critical part of the Deerfield identity, J.R. Maestro ’13 expressed his disappointment in the scope of conversation. “The things that we’re talking about are so minute on the large scale,” he said. “I’m at a loss of words. I’m shaking about the fact that we’re talking about clothes.”
Mettler Growney ’13 pointed to the competitive nature of Deerfield as something that breeds insecurity. “Deerfield is a very competitive place,” she said. “We all came from schools where we were at the top of the class. … We live with each other and look at our neighbors. We want to be the best we can be, so it’s hard to boost up others when you’re trying to make yourself best too. I think that’s where the belittling in the Greer, classroom, and dining hall comes from… Where is [our] self-confidence?”
Self-confidence (or lack thereof) became a recurring topic. “Once we’re confident in who we are, then I think we can begin to deal with the socioeconomic differences here, which can be pretty obvious,” Julia Perry ’13 said.
On the other hand, Travers Nisbet ’13 traced the negative aspects of student culture back to the Administration. “A lot of these issues stem from the relationship between the administration and the students,” he said. “What I’ve noticed over the four years that I’ve been here is that the disparity between these two groups has grown tremendously. A lot of the things that the Administration does are hypocritical in the battles that they choose.”
Teddy Romeyn ’13 asserted that the shortcomings of Deerfield student culture are just a part of the schooling students receive. “I can say I would not be the same person I am today if [bro culture, dress culture and socioeconomic differences at Deerfield] hadn’t existed. In my experience, I have been the best teacher of myself. I think that’s true for everybody. Without the difficulties I’ve experienced here, I wouldn’t have my personal philosophies. It will have to come from us as individuals to deal with the culture here.”
The Student Culture Forum wrapped up with a promise: “We’d just like to remind you that all [Student Council] meetings are open…And anyone who didn’t get to say what they wanted to say, we’re going to set up a Google-docs-type blog where you can share any comments that you didn’t get to say,” said Cleo Siderides, President of Student Council. More than three weeks have passed since the Forum has taken place, and the Google-doc has not yet appeared.
“We’ll have all of these great discussions, and so on, but most of us will forget about the things we’ve talked about in this forum the moment we walk out of the door,” Michael Beit ’15 said. “We like to be critical, but what we want to keep in mind is that we’re also often hypocritical.”