In the real world, high school friendships are created in a wide variety of hang-out spots: the movies, the mall, the football stadium, and people’s houses. But at boarding school, our options for socializing are far more limited. Much of the social life at Deerfield happens in the dorms, so it’s inevitable that male and female students won’t necessarily interact as much as they might otherwise.
However, if there were more open spaces for students to get to know one another in an unstructured setting, it might be easier for students to have friends of the opposite gender without being labeled as a couple. While the Greer is a wonderful space, the culture that surrounds it discourages students from trying to meet people outside their usual friend groups. Discussions often heard in the Greer include “leaving,” “getting parietals,” and “hooking up” Admittedly, this is a student-created culture, but it comes from only having a few forums in which students socialize with the opposite gender.
Doubleday’s open house was a great idea: every dorm room door was open, and students could hang out without the pressure of being specifically invited or getting parietals. Because it wasn’t mandatory, it didn’t feel forced or unnatural, which made it a great opportunity to foster genuine relationships.
Small spaces, such as open common rooms, are also ideal for people to spend time together. Perhaps if there were more opportunities like the one in Doubleday, or more small spaces with activities such as foosball or ping-pong, we could start to break down the gender divide that affects every aspect of life at Deerfield.