According to the results of a recent school-wide survey conducted by the Scroll, 92% of Deerfield students believe that there is a hook-up culture on campus.
The Student Life Office and the Health Center have both expressed that it is crucial that there is programming to inform students and to promote a dialogue about healthy relationships on campus. As part of an initiative to further this conversation, Deerfield invited a group called Speak About It to come to campus and address topics such as boundaries and consent.
Speak About It is a nonprofit that works with high schools and colleges to promote healthy choices in regard to relationships. The group comes highly recommended by peer schools and other faculty, and they have visited Deerfield before as part of the Transition to College workshop for seniors.
Health Teacher Margaret Brown, who has seen the group’s work in action, is optimistic about their impact on the campus. “They’re young, they’re energetic, and I think they do a good job connecting with students,” she said.
The decision to bring Speak About It was organized by the Gender and Consent Working Group, which consists of Anna Gonzales and the University of Pennsylvania teaching fellows: Marissa Cornelius, Benjamin Grimm, Parker Lawlor, Eliza Mott, Hannah Insuik, Chinyere Odim, and Eliot Sakach.
The group was formed in November and works in conjunction with Assistant Head for Student Life Amie Creagh and the Student Life Office to educate the student body on issues revolving around consent and healthy relationships.
The group members initially came together to brainstorm the best way to foster necessary conversations around healthy relationships and consent that included all genders.
“We don’t have a mission statement; we just meet for lunch, but the main goal was in the long term to try and revamp Deerfield’s approach to teaching consent in a programatic way, over the course of a whole year,” said Philosophy and Religion Teacher Mr. Grimm. “That’s how the group formed. Based on that desire to do more.”
Speak About It talked to the students via a special school meeting on Feb 28. Students split into two groups, one consisting of underclassmen, and the other of upperclassmen.
This decision was suggested by Speak About it, in an attempt to cater information to each age group by targeting what is most pertinent to them.
Ms. Creagh explained “How you message that to a 13-year-old and talk about it is very different than with a 19-year-old.
It is important to be philosophically coherent and also simultaneously tailoring how you speak with students to their developmental target.”
In the age of the #MeToo movement and the surge of women speaking up about misconduct, the topic of healthy relationships is as important as ever. Deerfield hopes that Speak About It’s impact will help further promote a continuing dialogue on campus.