By Madi Massey ’21
Eighth grade students discussed and identified some of the offensive terms heard and used at school during class meeting on Feb. 2.
Before the meeting, students were sent a survey asking about what they had picked up on or said themselves around campus and how they felt about it. One of the questions, for instance, asked how students interpreted the phrase “like a girl.” Many responded that it was a discriminatory phrase used to imply that girls were weaker than boys. However, numerous students shared what it meant to them personally rather than how it is interpreted in the media. Some wrote that despite its implications, “like a girl” really just means to do something and also happen to be a girl – and that the two do not have a correlation.
“Equality and fairness among everybody, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc., is something that the school tries to implement on every new crop of kids so that they can be aware of the impact of their words and actions,” eighth grade dean Betsy Ilg said.
The administration decided it would be the most effective to have students discuss the subject with each other rather than a teacher-led discussion as had been done in the past. By submitting their responses to the survey and observing how their peers felt about the subject, students said they were able to take it more seriously and learn from a more similar viewpoint.
Following the meeting, some students decided to begin a leadership project and sent out a follow up survey asking for more specific and anecdotal evidence of inappropriate or offensive terms at school. According to those students, the responses were lengthy and will be helpful in improving the school community.
Eighth grade deans said they hope to revisit the subject and continue talking about the power of words.
“The meeting was really educational, and it definitely inspired me to think more about my words and actions,” Sara Maniscalco ’21 said.