The Deerfield Scroll
//BALLARD BROWN Contributing Writer
So why do this? The reasoning behind the changes is actually quite sound. There is a noticeable gender divide on campus, and that is the basis for dormitory repositioning and renovated common rooms. The idea is that with more areas for students to hang out other than in the Greer, the gender divide will begin to disappear, since the Greer culture is—as far as I can tell—a contributing factor to the gender divide. The second reason is reported issues with integration of new sophomores into their grade. New students find it difficult to integrate because as freshmen there are countless bonding experiences, most notably Camp Beckett. In an attempt to fix this imbalance, sophomores will live with fellow sophomores only, ideally to help the new students integrate better into their grade. The third reason given was to increase school spirit, which has seen a noticeable decline since I came to Deerfield in the fall of 2012. How the changing of the dorms will help to bolster school spirit is far more nebulous. Perhaps underclassmen living within their grade will help each class develop its own school spirit, but exactly how school spirit is to be mended is something that I have not been able to grasp. In any event, while these changes seem designed to fix legitimate issues on campus, they have the potential to create as many problems as they solve. The “Ninth-Grade Village” and the placement of sophomores with sophomores seem to pose the largest risk to me. But the idea of fixing the gender divide is a very valid goal. That being said, the sequestering of underclassman into their own dorms by grade presents the reality that freshman and sophomores will not have a chance to interact for two years, until they are juniors and seniors living together in the upperclassman dorms. Living with older students my freshman year, and younger ones my sophomore year, I was able to become very close with people outside of my grade, forming friendships I have maintained since living with these people. I believe that separating younger grades will create a new divide among the student body: a tangible grade divide. This divide will inhibit many meaningful friendships from being formed, friendships that have, in the past, helped younger students learn the social rules of Deerfield as well as understand Deerfield
deerfield dorms get a makeover
traditions. The hope is that proctors will fill this void, and teach their proctees what kind of school Deerfield is. It is clear, however, that all new students will miss an experience that I found to be very valuable in my time as a freshman and sophomore. Living with sophomores freshman year, I learned to respect older students and take their advice very seriously. That is not to say I followed older students blindly, but that I learned to consider every bit of advice given, and not to disregard people’s opinions because of their social stature. Then, as a sophomore, I and other students in my grade realized it was now our turn to help guide new students. I learned how to help the younger students patiently, and could do so well because I had asked the exact same questions and encountered the same kinds of confusion just the year before. While this is not officially recognized as being a leadership position on campus, this role that sophomores often play on their halls under the housing system as it now exists taught generations of Deerfield sophomores to be patient and helpful with younger students more unfamiliar with Deerfield. Furthermore, this experience left them more prepared to take on upperclassman responsibilities. I am sure that the radically different dormitory system is being implemented with the best of intentions, I cannot imagine that this is some sort of a reactionary change to anything else on campus than the issues of gender and intragrade bonding. But I have decided, in the end, that while declining school spirit was a reason cited for implementing change, it does not seem to me to be a legitimate reason behind the new arrangements. It seems to me that changing dorm assignments will not directly improve school spirit. When I decided to write this article, I tried to consider and r e c o g n i z e the supposed reasoning behind the decisionmaking. And in the end, I support the two tangible reasons given for the changes, the gender divide and lack of intra-grade bonding. These are immediate and tangible issues on campus that need to be dealt with. I only wonder if there is not a more moderate way to begin to address these issues, one that does not carry with it massive potential to form new issues that will have to be dealt with, perhaps in similarly extreme ways, later on.
THE ADMINISTRATION PRESENTS THE NEW HOUSING SYSTEM We are excited to announce a “Ninth-Grade Village” at Deerfield. The Ninth-Grade Village is designed to give ninthgraders a strong academic and social foundation for their time at Deerfield—and to address common concerns new students have about orienting to life away from home. Starting this fall, ninthgrade girls will live in Johnson Dormitory, and ninth-grade boys in Doubleday Dormitory. The Crow Commons, a large common space connecting the two buildings, will serve as a dedicated environment in which to build the Ninth-Grade Village program. Study halls will be structured and supported specifically for ninth-grade students, and dorm-based programs will encompass aspects of orientation, diversity and inclusion, community service, and health issues. Also starting this fall, sophomores (new and returning) will be housed together, as a class, to help new students bond with their returning classmates more quickly—and to ensure that we can provide a structured study environment each evening. (Juniors and Seniors, including new students, will continue to be housed together in their own dorms.) All dorms will now be arranged around a “brother/ sister” dormitory model, extending the notion that when we provide structures for casual interaction between and among boys and girls, we create an opportunity for more natural and meaningful relationships. While single rooms provide an opportunity for focused study, we’ve found that younger students can sometimes feel a bit alone when placed in a single. Under our new residential model, most ninth-graders will be housed in double rooms— providing the companionship and bonding opportunities to set them on a great start— while students in later years will primarily occupy single rooms, giving them the ability to retreat, focus, and reflect on their studies.
Contributing Writer The “Live Clean, Eat Dirty” campaign at Deerfield Academy has undoubtedly achieved critical success: the health benefits associated with fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats have been widely
disseminated around the
school, and these salubrious options are now readily available in the Dining Hall. The Greer Store and Koch Café, however, don’t stress the endeavor towards healthy eating as well as the Dining Hall does. The inclusion of healthy snacks—like the cowboy nuts, granola bars, as well as the online table of nutrients and calories associated with each food option—have been tremendous steps in the right direction—but more can be done, very easily. The most notable difference, in my opinion, between the Dining Hall efforts towards healthy eating, and those of the Koch or Greer, is the lack of availability of fresh—and free—fruit in the Greer Store and Koch Café. The fact of the matter is, students
Contributing Writer After hearing Ms. Creagh’s announcement at School Meeting concerning the new dorm arrangement on campus, I was shocked by the decision to make Johnson and Doubleday a “Freshman Village.” Johnson-Doubleday has since the beginning been a historically popular upperclassman-boys dorm on campus. Although some students and teachers alike feel the dorm is only popular in the community because of its reputation for drugs and drinking, many students there haven’t participated in any of these activities. Students I’ve spoken to say they appreciate the dorm because it allows for more freedom. When boys get the chance to live in Johnson and Doubleday their junior or senior year, they feel they have finally earned a bit more freedom on campus. Not only do upperclassman boys get to live in doubles or triples with their close friends, but the isolation of these dorms on campus gives upperclassman boys a portion of campus dedicated to them. Hearing Ms. Creagh’s announcement on Wednesday, I was initially against this proposal. I thought it might change the school culture too much. But after I began thinking about the situation a little more, I realized the positives that could result from this action. If the intention of this action is to increase school spirit and improve relationships throughout the grade levels, then this new dorm arrangement seems to be the only practical solution. Having all the freshmen live together in Johnson and Doubleday with roommates will force them to interact with one another and eventually develop strong ties with one another. Also, the all-sophomore dorms will make the new sophomore
transition into the school community a little easier since the sophomores will, like the freshman, have to interact and become acquainted with their fellow sophomores. I understand that the biggest counterargument to this proposal is that students will stop associating with students from other grade levels if this plan goes through—but I don’t believe that’s true. First off, the Prefect position, for freshman, and, the Proctor position, for sophomores, w i l lg u a r a n t e e that underclassmen build relationships with seniors. Second, although students may be separated by dorms, students still have the chance to interact with one another in classrooms, during sports, at the Greer and during extracurricular activities, campus-wide activities, meals and during the weekends. Third, the upperclassmen dorm situation will remain the same: only the location will be different. Juniors and seniors will still be living with each other. The new dorm arrangement is simply switching the historically upperclassman side of campus with the historically underclassman side of campus. It may seem odd to those of us who have been at Deerfield for three or four years to think about Barton or Field as being dorms for seniors and juniors, but all changes seem odd at first. Soon many of us will forget that Johnson and Doubleday were ever the popular upperclassman boys dorms they presently are, just as many forgot that Scaife was a popular underclassman boys dorm or many have forgotten how the old Memorial Building looked. Change always seems scary at first because our minds have become accustomed to viewing things in a certain way. It will take time for us three- or four-year Deerfield students to grow comfortable with this idea, but this change is going to happen. So instead of thinking of the negative as I initially did, I encourage all students and faculty alike to think of the positives changes this new dorm arrangement could bring to our school culture.
fissore o’leary calls for fruit! //MERCEDES FISSORE
28 January 2015
are confronted with a choice at the Greer and Koch, more so than they are at the Dining Hall. And I don’t condemn choice: I think it is as perfectly acceptable to purchase a buffalo panini or a grilled CC, as it is a parfait, or some fruit salad. But if fruit—like apples, bananas, and oranges—were displayed as a free option, some students might reconsider eating a cinnamon bun before lunch and instead just pick up an apple before class. The chief concern for moneymaking enterprises like the Koch or Greer would be a reduction in generated revenue because of the free fruit option. However, I think this fear can be easily assuaged in three ways: primarily there can be a limit on the amount of fruit a student takes, with something
like a “Take one, please” sign. Next, the type of fruit displayed for free can be contingent on the seasonal prices of the fruit; apples could be displayed in the fall, when they are in season and presumably cheaper, while pears and oranges could be offered in the winter. Finally, this notion of free fruit could run on a trial basis, say, for one month: if too much revenue is lost, fruit could once again be priced at 70 cents. But this proposal goes beyond the revenue question of the Greer and Koch: If we want to truly promote healthy eating at Deerfield, couldn’t this prove to be a simple, but effective change? And if the fruit in the Dining Hall and Koch and Greer comes from the same shipment, why does the price differ by $.70?
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