Since the Boston Globe article about Deerfield was published, our community has been, at times, immersed in discussions about the legitimacy of its contents. I chose to share my thoughts in the Globe through a Letter to the Editor, which many of you read.
After the Globe published my letter, many current students and a few alumni reached out to me to express their support. Some were surprised that I would so vigorously defend Deerfield given my history of writing opinion pieces that were critical of various aspects of our community. I know that some students believe that I dislike Deerfield because I have been critical of it. Two years ago, after I had written an opinion piece defending my decision not to attend Deerfield’s live-streaming of Donald Trump’s inauguration, I received a condescending email from a fellow student suggesting that my comments made him wonder whether I really wanted to be part of this community.
This is a sentiment I hear a lot, but Deerfield’s imperfections have made me love it even more. Sounds crazy, I know, but the fact that I’ve been given the space and time to shine a light on things that matter to me, areas where I think Deerfield has room to grow, and the fact that I’ve been supported by faculty and administrators as I’ve pushed forward with my criticisms, mean that I feel like I’m being heard and making a difference, however small, in this community.
When I spoke with the Globe reporter, Kay Lazar, before the publication of her article, she too seemed to have imagined that because I had been critical of small aspects of Deerfield culture, I would wholesale buy into a belief that Deerfield prioritizes the needs of boys over girls.
If I hated Deerfield, I would have left this community long ago. If I merely disliked Deerfield, I would not be putting in the effort to write opinion pieces. It is precisely because I love Deerfield that I have, in the past, criticized aspects of our community. Criticism, some say, is the highest form of praise.
One additional thing needs to be said here: just as my criticism of Deerfield in past Scroll articles doesn’t mean that I hate it here, don’t assume that because I wholeheartedly supported Deerfield in my letter to the Globe that I don’t support any girl who comes forward, as Izzy Hamlen does in this issue, to shine a light on the particular challenges that girls face at Deerfield. Recognizing that many faculty members and administrators are working to empower girls doesn’t mean that we can’t also recognize that sometimes people make mistakes.
Too much of our school dialogue has been dictated by the Globe article, an artificial assessment of our school propelled forward by outsiders with an agenda that has little to do with wanting to make Deerfield a stronger and more inclusive community.
If you, like me, are aware that Deerfield isn’t perfect (what school is?), don’t just sit at the Greer badmouthing our community. Don’t just make memes mocking the imperfections that are part of every community. People here care about your opinions, and I can tell you from experience that if you speak up and speak out, things can change.
All the best,