Deerfield’s latest Academy Event featured the electric jazz rock group Kneebody, the most memorable Academy Event in recent memory — but for the wrong reasons.
From the moment the musicians stepped on stage, students inappropriately cheered, clapped, and shouted in ways that felt insincere and contrived.
Only a few minutes into Kneebody’s first song, we heard many students having loud, elaborate conversations – not expressing excitement for the music, but completely ignoring the performance.
We saw students bursting into laughter when musicians made certain motions onstage and students listening to AirPods. When the same students who hollered in exaggerated ways fell asleep halfway through the event, it was clear that the “enthusiastic” welcome was aimed at garnering attention from fellow students and not meant to show true appreciation for the artists.
One part of the performance featured an extended saxophone solo, a quiet moment that allowed the musicians and every audience member to hear each other easily.
But students continued shouting at each other and at the musicians. The whooping prevented everyone from being able to pay attention to the performance.
Students have a long tradition of expressing their frustration at the countless number of required meetings at events in Deerfield, especially Academy Events. We are bogged down by so many responsibilities on campus, and it is understandable that we might not look forward to attending Academy Events.
However, it is unacceptable to disrespect the performers, the people who organized the event, and other students and faculty members. In the dorms, on social media, during classes and sit-downs, we heard people making fun of the musicians’ appearances and belittling their skill level and musicianship. We heard people saying that whoever invited Kneebody to perform at Deerfield should face consequences for bringing such a disappointing event.
Not everyone is used to listening to music without lyrics for an extended period of time. It is okay to feel uncomfortable with new experiences – that feeling is a natural reaction to moving out of our comfort zone. But it is not okay to mock the performers and to disrupt the performance and other people’s ability to enjoy the event.
Academy Events often present the performing arts in unexpected ways. In a community where the majority of the student body plays sports, Academy Events can present rare and refreshing opportunities to engage with the arts aside from the regular but optional-attendance student performances.
New students are not required to like these events, and they don’t even have to pretend to like them. All we have to do as a community is to show respect and admire the talent they bring to campus. The Scroll Board is deeply upset that as a community, we did not show that respect to Kneebody.
When Mohsin Hamid spoke to us in the fall, we did not yell or socialize loudly. When the play Sense and Sensibility performed last year, we did not yell.
Even during Pilobolus, which showcased experimental and contemporary dance pieces, students expressed amusement and wonder but never shouted conversations at one another – especially not during the quiet parts.
We can and should do better. One of Deerfield’s core values is “citizenship in a spirit of humility, empathy, and responsibility.”
Respect is also a key part of empathy. Interacting with faculty members helps us learn respect.
Living in shared spaces helps us learn respect.
Showing gratitude to staff members around campus helps us learn respect.
Using all that we’ve learned, let’s show respect to our guests, too.