With the ongoing discussions on campus regarding how we can make our school a more inclusive place, we feel compelled to address the allegation that those of us who have been pointing out ways we can improve as a school somehow dislike Deerfield. Speaking for ourselves, of course we love Deerfield, and of course we recognize that it is a privilege to attend.
That said, we do acknowledge that op-eds tend to be more critical than complimentary, because people who choose to spend the time to write an op-ed about an issue are likely compelled by a desire to see some kind of change. Yet, we think we speak for most, if not all, of our writers when we say that we immensely love Deerfield overall.
In fact, we would even argue that pointing out ways we can improve is a sign that we love our school. To illustrate this point, when parents criticize their children for wrongdoings, it is not because they dislike their children, but instead because they love them and wish them to improve. Similarly, we point out ways Deerfield could improve because we wish it to become the best it can be; if we did not care about Deerfield, then we would not put in the effort to improve it.
We think we can all agree that nobody is perfect. Accordingly, none of our institutions is perfect either. We would only delude ourselves in insisting that Deerfield, or any other school, is perfect.
Furthermore, insisting that it is disloyal to criticize our school is eerily reminiscent of the mindset of many totalitarian regimes, the antithesis of our democracy that we so cherish. Then, why do we accuse each other of disliking our school for admitting its imperfections?
The crux of this conflict, we believe, is a dilemma that everyone wrestles with in life: the question of how to be satisfied in how far one has come, while simultaneously acknowledging that there is still room for improvement and always striving to become even better.
We would like to celebrate that Deerfield has come a long way in terms of diversity and inclusion. The Deerfield of the past, with its homogeneous student body of rich white males, contrasts sharply with the Deerfield of today, a school with a student body that is diverse in so many respects: gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, geographic and socioeconomic background, religion, and beliefs.
And yet, as long as even one person feels discriminated against on our campus, that means that we can try harder to make our community a more inclusive place. Instead of accusing each other of being ungrateful for talking about Deerfield’s flaws, let’s tell each other our stories and simply listen to one another, without judgment and without defensiveness. Let’s make sure that the wonder that so many of us see in our school is truly shared by all in our community.
All the best,
Kevin and Jillian