On Tuesday, April 18, Deerfield Academy hosted Cindy Pierce, a leading social educator on sexuality and healthy relationships. Complemented by a prior showing of The Hunting Ground, Pierce’s speech aimed to prepare seniors for their next step, specifically by raising awareness about sexual assault on college campuses.
Mrs. Caroline Savage, Associate Director of Admission, helped facilitate the talk and explained that by coupling Ms. Pierce’s talk with The Hunting Ground, which presents “a scary reality of what could and does happen on college campuses,” students were provided “with awareness and tools necessary again to navigate the social landscape in college.”
Health Teacher and Peer Counseling Director Kristin Loftus and football coach Brian Barbato also supervised the event, which symbolized the administration’s continued efforts to educate seniors before they enter university.
English Teaching Fellow Anna Gonzales ’12 commends the school on its willingness to promote discussion and tackle the issue of sexual assault.
“When I was a student, conversations around issues of consent were limited to health class, so it’s been encouraging to see more education on the topic,” Gonzales recounted. She continued, “There was no Deerfield Students Against Sexual Assault or even a Feminism club just four years ago, so it’s great that there are students doing work in those clubs in addition to the gender symposiums.”
Mrs. Savage explained that Ms. Pierce’s visit “was really to prepare students for the college landscape and what to expect on college campuses in the fall in terms of sexual activity, drinking, and how those things can go hand-in-hand…it was taking a scary subject and giving seniors some tools to successfully navigate those waters.”
President of Deerfield Students Against Sexual Assault Ellie Koschik ’17 attended the event and believed the administration’s invitation of Cindy Pierce was a positive endeavor. Koschik particularly appreciated Pierce’s advice for exercising awareness when safety feels threatened: “read the room.” Koschik commented, “Awareness has definitely increased rapidly in the last few years; especially since the [St. Paul’s School sexual assault case]…all boarding schools have taken it more seriously.”
Mrs. Savage emphasized that “No matter what a girl wears, what a girl says, or what vibe she gives off, she never deserves to be assaulted or violated. However, I thought [Ms. Pierce] heeded a very wise warning: that there will be someone in the room who doesn’t understand that, and you need to be aware that that someone is out there.”
While seniors interpreted and valued Ms. Pierce’s symposium in different ways, the administration maintains its commitment to education of sexual assault.