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Is Deerfield “Big Brother”?

As students, we acknowledge the need for certain rules to ensure the safety and well-being of the student body. It is clear that the Academy’s policies on drinking and drug use exist to serve this purpose.

Furthermore, the use of drugs and alcohol on campus would detract from the Academy’s purpose of fostering hard work and academic excellence in its students.

Drinking and drug use, however, do not necessarily conflict with the values of “honesty, respect, and concern for others,” as outlined in the school’s Values Statement. Such behavior is considered a breach of trust in the community only because Deerfield has set a rule in place to forbid it.

With this in mind, we begin to see how Deerfield’s Scope and Jurisdiction policy is an extreme overreach of power on the school’s part. Many of Deerfield’s seniors, PGs and even juniors are above the age of 18, meaning that they are legally allowed to drink in most of the world.

In addition, underage consumption of alcohol is allowed in 29 states in the United States, provided that there is parental presence and consent, and that it takes place on private, non-alcohol-selling premises (www.procon.org).

It would be ridiculous to say that students drinking under such circumstances were in any way representing the school poorly; however, the school regularly contends that Deerfield’s rules apply even in these situations.

When a student leaves campus and goes home for the weekend, his or her parents assume the responsibility of looking out for that student’s well-being.

The school can no longer be held responsible for his or her actions; rather, the student’s parents must ensure that he or she is being safe with alcohol.

The real reason, however, for the scope and jurisdiction clause in Deerfield’s rulebook is not safety, but rather preserving the school’s image. Deerfield’s website states, “A student’s behavior must never jeopardize the welfare or reputation of the Academy or other Deerfield students” (Rules and Expectations).

While it may be true that Deerfield is represented or judged by its students when they leave campus, it is also represented by thousands of alumni and employees. Deerfield’s current policy on scope and jurisdiction makes as much sense as penalizing a 45-year-old alumnus for buying a case of beer at the supermarket. Is an 18-year-old senior having a glass of wine with his parents any more offensive than this? Both are legal activities that do not directly interfere with school life.

It is an unnecessary headache and even an invasion of personal space for the school to attempt to regulate students’ actions off-campus. It seems logical to conclude that Deerfield rules should apply at Deerfield, but off-campus the only requirement should be that you do not violate the school’s fundamental values or break the law.

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