The greatest threats to cultural diversity on campus are required bonding programs, specifically Connect4. These meetings restrict free time and fail to promote deep, vested relationships. Rather than organically learning about a peer, students are forced to bond under artificial circumstances. Instead of having candid conversations, students engage in awkward small talk and bond over cursory similarities, like rain boots.
These forced interactions perpetuate the “dominant culture,” as they prevent students from genuinely getting to know each other. These superficial relationships are then substituted for true friendships. Furthermore, these meetings infringe on time that students could use to forge true relationships.
“Because students are required to attend so many meetings, Connect4 is dreaded,” said Laura Quazzo ’13. “And I haven’t noticed any genuine bonding occurring. … It’s more of a race to get things done, not to take the time to truly get to know each other.”
How can we minimize the effects of a “dominant culture” if students don’t have enough time Deerfield’s rigorous schedule, kids who have interests opposed to the mainstream culture don’t have the time to develop them and engender a counterculture.
“At my old school, we had the jocks, hippies, artists, punks; you just don’t see that at Deerfield,” said John Deskavich ’13.
In an attempt to integrate students, Deerfield promotes inauthentic relationships that perpetuate the “dominant culture.”
By shuffling friends around in housing, Deerfield further promotes short-lived, superficial relationships. Every year, Deerfield tries with fervor to diversify halls. However, this means that students who naturally have an affinity to one another arenʼt allowed to bond in a sustained manner and are forced to switch dorms every year.
Rather than allowing actors, or athletes, et al, to live together, Deerfield forces a heterogeneous hall that engenders a homogeneous culture. Preventing friends from living together for more than a year stifles the evolution of the culture of that group. For example, artists canʼt spend enough time together to form an artsy culture. The result is different groups bonding over superficial interests, inducing the “dominant culture.”
Finally, the hindrance of specialization outside of athletics harms cultural diversity. Every year, teams return to campus early for preseason and athletes consequently form strong relationships with each other. Those students who are interested in athletics have a forum after school to bond with teammates and create a “bro culture”; debaters, writers, et al, donʼt have these same opportunities. Since extracurricular clubs arenʼt given the same priority as athletics, itʼs difficult for subcultures to evolve around these organizations. Although exemptions are offered, students are often deterred from this option, and pushed instead towards sports. Again, this is an institutional policy that prohibits students of similar interests from forming their own culture—unless of course theyʼre athletes. By prohibiting specialization outside of athletics, the administration has created a bland, “dominant culture.”
When speaking at an NAIS conference, Bill Gates was asked how his high school helped him grow into himself. Gates replied, “They stayed out of the way.”
If Deerfield allowed students the time to simply be themselves and hang with friends, there would not be a “dominant culture.”