Administrative shortcomings made clear though “Days of”

Students express that the influx of emails from administration with no consequential steps towards change is frustrating.


Students express that the influx of emails from administration with no consequential steps towards change is frustrating.

In recent months, there has been a surge in student activism at the high school, which motivates me to address a few conflicts presented by the response we have been hearing from the administration.

After talking with many of my classmates I have grown to understand the frustration between the student body and the administration deeply. The last portion of our mantra is “we create the culture we want,” but when does the “we” turn into “you?”

Many of my teachers have designated time in class to discuss the recent uprising in fights, vandalism and overall unacceptable behavior at the high school. The most common sentiment I have heard from students is that there are a lot of teachers asking us what we are going to do, but what is the administration doing about it?

Regularly, the administration sends an email expressing their disappointment in student behavior. These emails have grown incredibly similar, varying only in the offensive incident they’re covering. When something is done so much, it loses its impact on students. The emails are getting old.

Something else that is getting old is the administration’s disorganization and lack of communication. While I want to acknowledge how incredibly grateful I am for all the “Day Of” segments—since I know many schools aren’t able to host them—I’ve found some issues with these days.

Beginning with MLK day, a video was presented during the middle of the day where BETCo students attempted to use satire to shed light on racism. The takeaways of this video reinforced racism even more, specifically Asian stereotypes.

These students were not in a position to use this humor. If we are trying to make a change in the community, videos such as that one should not have been allowed. After watching the video, students emailed their deans and the administration trying to explain why these videos were offensive and more harmful than helpful.

While some of these emails received responses, many went unanswered. Students’ attempts to “create the culture we want” were given an automated response—although I understand that it is not realistic to expect the administration to respond to everyone’s emails.

Instead of the administration “analyzing” the feedback without students, it would have made a deeper impact to include students in the analysis. I hope that in the future, students’ calls for change are met with conversation rather than another automated response.

The next “Day Of” was Day of Change. Students received an email at 6:46 p.m. on March 2, the day before the event, depicting what the day would look like. Day of Change was not included in Head of School Anthony Meyer’s weekly email.

Teachers were given notice about this day on Monday, Feb. 28. That left four days for teachers to prepare before Day of Change. Many people, students and teachers alike, found the lack of communication from the administration surrounding this day to be incredibly insulting.

Teachers received the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) material two days before the presentation day and were asked to facilitate, but pushed back as they did not feel prepared to cover this heavy topic with such short notice. This is not a day that someone can prepare to teach in two days on top of other work.

According to some SHARP members, the administration had been hesitant about going forward with Day of Change. It felt to me that the notion of this day was riding on the sole idea that it would look good for the school.

Whether this was the motivation or not, the impression many students got was negative, and that is not okay. As a woman, it frustrates me to hear such indecision coming from our administration surrounding such a widespread, horrific and life-changing subject.

I understand that this day was heavy and hard for people to handle, but the number of topics addressed should have required the day to be longer. Half of the day was about toxic masculinity, which is one of the main sources of rape culture. However, I would have liked more emphasis on the experiences of feminine-identifying students.

The needs of the SHARP Warriors were not met and students’ voices were not heard—this is a visible pattern.

When talking to a friend, she mentioned to me that she had brought evidence—a screenshot—to her dean about an assault, but was distraught when nothing was ever done about it. The perpetrator sits in class every day, just like all the others do. So again, “we create the culture we want,” but when advocating for our culture, the administration ends up not listening.

Let the nuance of my argument not be overlooked. There has been a continuous pattern through these “Days Of” and all of the emails. The administration looks to students to make a change, but I do not see a change in their behavior either.

This school has the opportunity to make something great from these days, but there is always some miscommunication, lack of transparency or a rushed feeling during each event. Students’ hard work is being harmed in the process.

The school has the opportunity to change the way our world works. We try, but students can only get so far without needing help. So what was the point of this opinion piece? What do I want?

I am asking for the administration to show more respect for students. I am asking them to not just say that they are listening to student opinions, but to actually listen to student input with open ears and amplify student voices. I am asking for a little more transparency between what is put out in emails and what is actually happening. I am asking them to make the change students are asking for.

Most importantly, I am asking for the “we” in “we create the culture we want” to spark unity over division. Please begin to actually include students in the conversation. The day before Day of Change, my teacher told our class that their child would be entering this school in three and a half years and that they hope our school has a better community than it does now. I hope that their child has a better experience in school than many of us did. I hope that the “we” is no longer an implicit “you,” but true togetherness.