Students Talk About Respect

Have you ever witnessed disrespectful behavior in team locker rooms, the dorm, or the Dining Hall? On February 17, students gathered in Walker Auditorium, a first since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, for an all-school discussion to discuss respect. Organized by Sydney Goldstein ’22, All-School President, and Margie Bowen ’22, student communications director, students gathered to discuss respect and the many ways in which students treat one another to impact a community. Goldstein said, “The reason why I wanted to have this conversation from the start was because of a pattern of [a lack of respect] during the first semester, especially with upperclass students.”

The planning committee and panelists for the discussion included 12 students representing three grades. They were supported by faculty members, including Mrs. Christy Cooper, sexual misconduct prevention & response coordinator, Dr. Nilaja Green, mental health counselor, and Ms. Carrie Smith P’18, ’20, ’24, human development coordinator.

The program was structured as a mandatory community conversation, followed by a one-hour optional Q and A discussion for those wanting to continue the conversation. Panelists initiated the discussion by defining respect and sharing prompts and anonymous stories on respect and disrespect in various situations. Students shared positive and negative personal experiences, relating to issues of racism, classism, and sexism. Jason Shan ’23, a student panelist said, “We were extremely touched by the community’s vulnerability and willingness to share such powerful personal stories. I think the conversation will serve as the starting point for more specific conversations about other issues affecting the community, such as misogyny, racism, homophobia, ableism, and classism.”

The conversation’s format was inspired by the Anti-Defamation League programming on hate and discrimination held in 2019. Shan said, “Even though [the Anti-Defamation League programming] happened when I was a Prep, I still remember how powerful it was to sit in that vulnerable and informative environment. We wanted to personalize the conversation on respect in a way where everyone is able to see and hear the examples of respect and disrespect first-hand.”