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Uncomfortable Questions

Community is always stressed as one of Deerfield’s most important aspects. We talk about it all the time. Recently, teachers Kristen Loftus and Sam Bicknell talked to our dorm to introduce us to Connect 4. I’m very much in favor of speaking about difficult issues. However, I believe the forced approach of having students open up is unnecessary and unhelpful.

I found the freshmen peer counseling groups to be the worst experience of my Deerfield career. While I’m sure many students found it enlightening to learn about the dating scene and sports culture at Deerfield, I felt alienated. I didn’t have a problem which I needed to speak to a peer counselor about. My transition to Deerfield was fine; I just felt there wasn’t an alternative scene where I could belong.

Starting my freshman year, I found the Deerfield Diversity Alliances. These groups are, in my opinion, some of the most underused resources we have. This is where change starts. The camaraderie for a cause in these groups is more powerful than a simple conversation in the dorm.

Forcing students to talk once a month won’t solve Deerfield’s problems. What’s not great about bonding with the students in the dorm? Well, because I would have so many similarities to a lacrosse playing-country-club-member resident of Greenwich or New York City. It’s silly to think that we can all just bond if we get together once a month. I’m gay, I have beautiful tanned skin (thanks to my Mexican heritage), and my parents are immigrants.

Please don’t talk to me about the dating culture at Deerfield, but please explain to me why someone wrote “faggot” on my door at the beginning of my junior year. Now that’s where everyone gets uncomfortable. Say something is wrong with Deerfield and everyone starts running and looking to the hills.

I love Deerfield. I’ve been a tour guide for the past four years. However, to say we’re all similar is an illusion. Instead of working to make the entire student body bond, I suggest we take the time to make students realize that some of us are different. Some of us can’t pay the Deerfield tuition. Financial aid is a necessity for many families.

What I propose we focus on is an implicit contract of being in a “diverse” community, a relationship based on mutual respect and tolerance rather than being forced to identify with students whose only connection we share is the fact that we go to school together.

1 Comment on Uncomfortable Questions

  1. Michael E. O'Connor // July 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm // Reply

    David — Well said. And nice to see a different, equally true, account of the Deerfield experience. I’m glad to hear that the Diversity Alliances are a useful resource.
    I’m a gay alumnus, Class of ’65, a time when the idea of gay social services was unheard of. I was a New Boy Senior (Does the term still exist?), a varsity swimmer, and despite all the boys-fooling-around-in-prep-school stories one hears, it was the straightest year of my life. Very strict, very Spartan, with tough swim practices, mandatory study halls, and two weekends home, one in the Fall, one in the Spring — if your grades were good.

    Though I can now understand that I had crushes on certain guys, I also recognize that some of my (presumably gay) classmates never did figure it out for themselves. Over the years, I’ve seen their pictures, with wives and children, in the alumni news. At least for your generation, I presume that the “wives” part will no longer be true. (Except, happily, for lesbian alumnae taking wives!)
    Glad to see that you, like me, were also able to appreciate all the other good things that Deerfield has to offer. Different times, different challenges.
    It sounds like you’ve handled them well. Good luck!

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