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Controversy on Choate Day
Maddie Chai '17 Staff Writer
December 9, 2015
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Petrus’s Letter

To the Students of Choate,

I apologize for the offensive comments made by members of our community. Choate/Deerfield Day is not supposed to be about insults and ignorance, but rather sportsmanship and spirit. I am personally embarrassed that our school was represented by behavior that is not indicative of our character. Although this letter will not solve the larger problem of people thinking it is acceptable to make such demeaning remarks, I hope that it will allow us to start working on this issue together. Once again, I apologize to anyone who was offended by what happened over the weekend, and if you would like to discuss this further, please email me at cpetrus@deerfield.edu.

Best,
Claire Petrus
Chair of the Student Council at Deerfield Academy

Every fall, Deerfield students dedicate a full week to showing their school pride in anticipation of Choate Day. Battle cries echo throughout the dining hall; banners are hung from dorms and buildings; and students dress in spirited clothing.

This year, on Choate Day, some chants turned negative and extreme.  Choate students yelled “Daddy’s money,” while Deerfield fans said that Choate volleyball players were wearing “spanx” and told them to eat more salads. Students from both schools insulted the opposing side.

The Monday after Choate Day, a sophomore girl from Choate posted a Facebook status about some of the offensive comments she had heard. She stated that Choate students value themselves based on virtues such as intelligence, integrity, kindness, athletic and artistic talent, while Deerfield students appraise their self-worth based on superficial things such as clothing, appearances, money, and their campus.

Some members of the Deerfield community who read the post were frustrated by her apparent disregard for Choate’s rudeness on Choate Day and because she ignored Deerfield’s perspective while making claims about students she has never met. However, others took the comment into consideration and felt badly about Deerfield’s actions.

Claire Petrus ’16 felt that Choate deserved an apology out of common courtesy. “I was personally upset, because our school didn’t look very good, and we weren’t at our best,” she said.  She felt a personal obligation to send an apology letter to the Choate community.

“You just send an apology letter to be polite,” she explained. “I felt really passionately that something should be said. The other people who knew about [the status] didn’t really seem to have an opinion, or they didn’t really want to do anything productive with it.”

After meeting with Ms. Creagh and Dr. Curtis to discuss the matter, Petrus sent the letter to Choate’s Dean of Students. In the letter, she expressed how embarrassed she was by the behavior of Deerfield students and alumni and apologized to anyone who had been offended on that Saturday.

The Choate Dean of Students responded and said that he would read Petrus’s letter to the Choate community at their first winter school meeting and use it to “provide some context that acknowledges the real possibility/likelihood that there are Choate fans that should be better behaved, that the vast majority of the Deerfield community served as wonderful hosts.”

Some students at Deerfield disagreed with Petrus’s decision to send an apology. Although she intended for the letter to represent only her own opinion, some peers pointed out that the way in which she wrote the letter, and that she signed it as “Chair of the Student Council at Deerfield Academy,” suggested that it represented the whole student body’s opinion.

Saorise Kennedy Hill ’16 stated, “I think Claire’s use of the word ‘our’ in her letter was used inappropriately, because it’s speaking about the Deerfield student body’s opinion, as opposed to her personal opinion. Also, I think it would have been best if she had checked with more students at Deerfield, because this letter is not representative of what the majority of us think.”

Alex Platt ’17 disagreed. “I can understand that some students were angry because they thought she was speaking on their behalf without their permission, but I also think that it shouldn’t matter, because we should all be mature enough to have wanted to send that letter.” Additionally, Platt added, “She signed it with her own name, and I think it was clear that it was on her own behalf.”

Although Petrus knew she would get some pushback from students, she wanted to send the letter out of what she felt was a personal responsibility. “The point was not to justify what Choate did, but just to say that we weren’t at our best on Saturday. Some people were being really rude, and we apologize for that.”