Select Responses from the Fishbowl Discussion

The Record and the Opinions Editors were granted permission to record and reproduce individual responses from the student fishbowl and addendums after the Stu-Fac discussion. 

Michael Duncan ’19

I’d like to point out that when we were trying to change the dress code, there were community announcements, feedback forms, student surveys, and trial days. The whole process took about 4 months, starting in February (but David and Saylor, the 2017-18 student body presidents  had been working on it for even longer, as had Aba and Jelani, the 2016-17 student body presidents). This feels like the complete opposite, and the administration just said, ‘Here’s a new rule,’ and we couldn’t say or do anything about it.

The lack of student engagement is confirmed in Dean of Residential Life, Mrs. Perrenoud’s, email to the student leaders (which had to be forwarded to us, instead of coming directly from her), ‘Various faculty representing different constituencies were consulted throughout the process of drafting this new approach to residential life…. The development of and decision to move forward with a trial of this approach was made by the dean of students, dean of faculty, dean of residential life, director of diversity and inclusion, and ultimately approved by the head of school.’ That is a lot of adults but absolutely no students, who understand and are affected by both the policy and the issues the administration claims to be trying to address.

My main point is how little the wishes of the students were considered in this new policy. I want to point out the absolute secrecy of the development and content for the policy, its quick rollout, and the administration’s unwillingness to deal with us directly. The administration said in their email, ‘I look forward to meeting with you early in the school year to discuss your concerns and ideas,’ yet did not show up to hear our thoughts.

Aidan Amster ’19

I am a proctor in a lowerclass dorm. I applied for this role, and I love it. However, even though I came here from California as a prep and knew almost no one, I feel more isolated from my community this year than I ever have. All of my peers in the Senior class live elsewhere. Last year, on a no-class Saturday, it would have been easy to spend time with friends in my dorm. Now, public spaces on campus are the only places I can see my friends. It poses the question, should all of my emotions, conversations, struggles and victories be public?

I don’t understand how a school that espouses a very specific set of values based on camaraderie and a residential life that is nurturing and supportive, expects to change a major policy two weeks before orientation and not receive pushback. I could have stayed home if I had just wanted to focus on academics. I came to Hotchkiss for more, for the community I was told about when applying, not what it has become. New students came here for the Hotchkiss they saw last year, and they weren’t even alerted to these changes before arriving. Institutions change and most of changes are handled gradually, with great care and delicacy. The emotion in this room right now is not going to translate to the administration through a written report. The student body should have at least been consulted in this decision, so that we could have been proactive — weighing in on the negatives related to these changes and advocating for more sensitive and sensible changes.

Casey Wolff ’19

“Why can’t we speak directly with those who made this policy? Are we truly a community if we can’t discuss these problems with those who can solve them? What is the “empirical and anecdotal data directly tying pervasive, negative behaviors–including hazing, bullying, gender-based harassment, and substance use to students being in unsupervised and closed spaces”? Why are we modeling our rules after Andover? Their school is twice the size of ours and we should be leading the way on this issue, not following others. Why can upperclassmen not visit lowerclassmen? I thought we wanted to build bridges between grades and not widen gaps. This was the issue of our last fishbowl, it seems like we are regressing instead of progressing.

I, along with many of my upperclass peers, am 18 years old. In the eyes of the law, I am considered an adult. I could withdraw from Hotchkiss today and enroll in basic military training by the end of the week and fight overseas before I would graduate. I could also smoke myself into lung cancer, vote for the highest office in the land and most any other office, and win the lottery. It is preposterous that I cannot be trusted to be in my room with friends without an open door. On the issue of trust, I have experienced massive distrust in my time here. As a prep, I could check in with my proctor at night and hang out with my friends as I saw fit until lights-out. As a lower mid, I had to check in with my dorm faculty, as the proctors could not be trusted to account for all of the students. As an upper mid, the same applied, but I was free of lights-out, yet often when I was innocently hanging out with my friends at night I was told to “break this party up” while merely watching a football game. Now, as a senior, I am expected to be a role model for the school. How can I be trusted to advise my younger peers if I cannot be trusted to spend time with my best friends in a closed space? In four years here, I have never committed any serious offenses due to my undying respect for Hotchkiss as an institution and a community, and have been rewarded with a gradual tightening of my leash. I have also never suffered or witnessed of any of the offenses that allegedly happen behind closed doors. I see no need for this new rule as a further damper on our relationships, the very things that make Hotchkiss great. Without any kind of administrative attendance, this meeting was almost pointless, as it is and has been abundantly clear that the student body almost unanimously disagrees with this rule. Through further and more genuine communication between those who are responsible for this rule and those who oppose it, I believe that we can reach a rational and fair conclusion to this issue in a short period of time.”