Read the Pro-Village article here.
The Freshman Village has successfully created more problems than it has solved. The gender divide is an issue that deserves to be addressed, but a Freshman Village was not the correct way to fix it. The most notable effect that The Village has had on campus is to create a class divide. Many freshmen do not socialize with people in other grades, and sophomores do not socialize with people other than sophomores. The freshmen have also not become accustomed to Deerfield’s traditions and culture, and while there are plenty of community members who believe that traditions are not worth keeping, they are in this case wrong.
One key issue with the lack of understanding of the Deerfield culture and traditions is that freshmen lack respect for these traditions. That respect goes beyond walking on senior grass and stepping on the seal, which I have seen freshmen do on multiple occasions. Those traditions are important to the school, but they also pale in comparison to the lack of respect for staff members. A trait that serves as a hallmark of our community is our kindness, especially to those who work to make our campus the wonderful place that it is. This includes respect and general humility to Physical Plant and Greer staff. I have heard many people talk about freshmen being directly or indirectly rude to Greer staff. Some have been directly condescending to people taking their orders or serving their food. In a more passive form, others leave messes for someone else to clean up. This lack of respect is a result of the freshman class living amongst themselves, without guiding influences from sophomores in their dorm.
Another problem seniors have voiced about The Freshman Village is that the freshmen were pampered in the design of Crowe Commons, giving them a perfect place to avoid interacting with the community. Those who have been here for four years know that it has taken years to get a new TV in the Greer. The freshmen got the largest TV that I have ever seen in their common room as part of the new campus design, and the rest of us got two Adirondack chairs per dorm, as if that is an equal trade off. And the freshmen that I know, even though my interaction with them has been made more difficult by the administration, have told me that freshmen do not even use the Crowe Commons resources frequently. The seniors have gotten nothing in the way of a reward for giving to the community for four years, and, in fact, we cannot even enjoy the things the freshmen were given.
Last year, when Johnson-Doubleday was an upperclassmen dorm, I did homework in Crowe Commons. This year, though, I have been told by the Deans Office that I am not allowed there during study hours because I would disrupt the freshmen study hall, even though they are required to be in their rooms. So I was banned from Crowe Commons during study hours, which is the only block of time where the public space on campus in which I work most effectively is quiet.
The grade divide that has been created by The Freshman Village is best exemplified when you look at recently organized student activities. The fact that the Student Planning Committee and the administration found it not only appropriate, but necessary to have a Senior-Freshman Mixer shows that my prediction from last year has come to fruition. I predicted in an earlier Scroll article that there would be a grade divide created by The Village, and people did not think that it would happen. Yet there was an organized event to get the freshmen to leave their Village and come meet people in other classes, which is proof that freshmen do not mingle or become acquainted with people on campus. For my grade, getting to know people in other classes has never been an issue — until this year.
The issues that have been created are too many to list in this article alone, and the problems that The Village was designed to fix still remain on campus. Now, on top of a gender divide, we have an issue with respect for traditions and staff, seniors feeling as though they have been in some way stiffed by the administration, and a very noticeable grade divide. I see The Village as an attempt to follow the lead of other boarding schools that house freshmen together; that attempt to fix the gender divide has backfired and created more problems than the administration can hope to fix. Deerfield is not St. George’s or any other school that houses freshmen together. We are different because of our strong, interconnected community, and The Village has shown itself to be something that is poised to destroy the very feeling of community that drew me to Deerfield in the first place. [Serena Ainslie also contributed ideas to this editorial.]