“Of course you’re a swimmer. You have such broad shoulders. You just look so… athletic,” he said, waving his hand up and down in an assessment of my body. He: a middle-aged, male college interviewer. Me: totally creeped out.
By the time he made this assessment, I was already uncomfortable. He had interrogated me about the rate of sexual assault at New England prep schools, as if being a girl at a New England prep school makes one an expert. He had brought up my two moms, and laughed about a former applicant who, through various divorces, now had four Jewish moms, as if to say, “You have it tough, but four moms would be even worse, and imagine if they were all Jewish!” When our conversation turned to my extracurricular activities and my involvement with the Scroll, he criticized the newspaper because printing on paper was, apparently, “old fashioned.” He bragged that this college’s newspaper was exclusively digital and seemed to wonder why we weren’t keeping up with the times. (Shout out to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, all published on paper in addition to publishing digitally.)
And then, he – the person who could determine whether I got into this college or not – commented on my body. He made me feel uncomfortable when I already felt criticized and vulnerable. He made me feel self-conscious instead of confident, and rather than thinking about my next answer, I began thinking about how much I regretted wearing a dress that (apparently) accentuated my HUGE shoulders. The power dynamics here are clear. He held all the power, and I had to make a split second decision whether to play along or tell him that his comments were inappropriate. I chose the former.
In the era of #MeToo, most of us understand that his comments were unprofessional, but in the grand scheme of what women experience in American society, they weren’t that surprising. I actually believe that he intended this particular comment as a compliment, no matter how creepy it may have felt at the time.
I know that this college interviewer will never see this letter. I’m not writing it for him. I’m writing this for anyone else who finds themself in a similar position. I wish that in that moment I had been able to say, no, this isn’t okay, to speak the truth even if it meant jeopardizing a college admission.
But most students at Deerfield have been trained to be polite. In fact, it’s practically a prerequisite for admission to Deerfield. We know how to nod politely, make small talk during an interview, shake hands, and make eye contact. What we’re not trained for – and I’m speaking about girls, in particular, but I’m sure the same applies to many boys – is to say “no” when a colleague or college interviewer is out of line, to call people on their s**t when they attempt to raise themselves up by putting you down, or when they attempt to turn your strengths into weaknesses. Politeness has made us good students and great college applicants. The question now is how to retrain ourselves for life beyond school.
That is the message I’d like to leave you with as the Scroll Board, Vol. XCIII passes the torch to Vol. XCIV. I’d like to thank Vol. XCIII for a year of great discussions and hard work making the paper what it is today, and I’d like to thank the faculty advisors – Mrs. Schloat, Mr. Savage, and Ms. Cornelius — for their incredible guidance and support every step of the way.
I’m delighted to announce that Claire Quan will be the next Editor-in-Chief of the Scroll. Claire brings her unique perspective, trademark thoughtfulness, and an incredible work ethic to the paper, and I can’t wait to see how she leaves her mark. Claire, I know that you will separate real news from sensationalism and criticism from negativity with integrity; always trust your gut.
And to you, the reader: Thanks for following us on this journey. Be brave, have integrity, and speak the truth, even when it isn’t considered polite.
All the best,
It’s hard to believe, but after all the late nights of layout, the last-minute headlines and deadlines, we’ve come to the last issue of the Scroll, Vol. XCIII.
Vol. XCIII has truly been something special. Month after month, we’ve continued to report on newsworthy stories, promote dialogue about important issues on campus, and hold our community accountable — all to an extent greater than has been possible in the recent past.
In the fall, we broke a story about a federal lawsuit filed by former faculty member Sonja O’Donnell, who alleged our administration was dismissive of complaints of sexual assault and hostile to women and girls. In the winter, we successfully ran an anonymous student body survey covering topics including drug use, health and wellness, sex, and political beliefs. The results were published online and provide an unprecedented set of quantitative data from students about culture on campus.
I won’t pretend the year has been perfect. We’ve had our fair share of mishaps, and I personally have made mistakes. Last May, for our Commencement issue, I authored a front-page feature article entitled “Board President-Elect Bill Simmons Takes On Dress Code.” The only problem? The new Board President’s name was Brian Simmons, not Bill. By the time I caught the mistake, 1400 copies had already been distributed across campus for graduation weekend.
Or last issue, you may have noticed the customary “Letter from the Editor” had a blank space under the headline. This was no accident. Last month, I had a series of discussions with the Scroll faculty advisors and my co-editor regarding our news article on offensive photos we discovered in Deerfield yearbooks. The decision was made to not print the photos we had found alongside the article, which I believed contradicted fundamental journalistic principles.
Upset with the decision, I resolved to address the issue in my Letter from the Editor, writing an impassioned piece criticising the decision and sending it to our advisors for review the night before our print deadline. It was what I’ve regretted most from my time as Editor-in-Chief. My lack of dialogue with the advisors throughout the letter-writing process led to a piece that was shortsighted and tactless, and it did not adequately acknowledge their well-intended concerns for the emotional needs of the community. While I wish I could have had the chance to revise my letter, the publishing of a blank space, ironically enough, may have conveyed an equally powerful message.
While these mistakes aren’t fun to remember, they have taught me hard lessons about careful communication, attention to detail, and valuing collaboration — lessons I will take with me for the rest of my life. I’m grateful for that.
Next year, we will pass on the torch to the Editorial Board, Vol. XCIV, led by Claire Quan as Editor-in-Chief and Maggie Tydings and Jae Won Moon as Co-Managing-Editors. This board has incredible potential and talent, and I trust they will continue to make the Scroll even better.
There are many thanks that I’d like to offer. The first goes out to our editors, who always went the extra mile to make sure their pages were completed to high standards. We’ve stuck together through a 20-page issue in May and, over the course of the year, have published more than double the amount of content published in previous years.
I’d like to thank my Co-Editor-In-Chief, Orlee Marini-Rapoport—while we have had our fair share of disagreements, I respect her willingness to have open, constructive dialogue and am incredibly grateful for her unwavering dedication to the paper.
To our faculty advisors — Mrs. Schloat, Mr. Savage, and Ms. Cornelius — you all have provided sound advice and guidance time and time again. Every time I’ve come to you all with an ambitious idea or new project, you have patiently sat through hours of long discussions to help the paper succeed.
Thanks to Mr. Marx, who has provided me with wisdom, support and courage as I’ve grown as a journalist and as a person.
And a final thank-you goes to you, our reader. Keep reading; keep thinking; keep asking the hard questions. Let’s all do our part to work towards a better future.