Dare to be Clear [Editorial]
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 10th, 2012
When Mr. Ball addressed the upper school community on Wednesday about instances of hateful graffiti, his message of the need to foster a safe environment was undermined by the vagueness of his speech.
Mr. Ball expressed deep disappointment with Milton students in the past weeks. He explained that we have not lived up to our own standards. Describing an event this past Sunday where he found hurtful graffiti targeting an individual, Mr. Ball said that we, as a community, have been disrespecting others. Mr. Ball said that, in more than one instance, we have engaged in unacceptable behavior towards one another.
As a community, we must create a safe environment for all. Mr. Ball’s message is extremely important, but many were not aware of the instances he was referring to. Because he did not provide more detail to the events that he witnessed, most students left the assembly confused and curious rather than concerned.
One of the major issues that we noticed is that many students spent the day asking faculty members and students whether or not they knew what Mr. Ball was referring to. The event turned into a piece of gossip. Considering the school prides itself on transparency–reading DC statements for this very reason–we felt that Mr. Ball’s speech was quite opaque. The lack of information, and the gossip it created, unnecessarily distracted students and the entire community from the problem at hand.
Moreover, if students do not know what specific actions were perceived as hurtful, they can not as effectively prevent themselves and others from further participating in such actions. While we would like to think that Milton students can predict whether or not their actions will hurt others, sometimes they are too preoccupied with humor or with frustration to understand the magnitude of their choices. Students cannot address the concerns of Mr. Ball and the administration if they do not have a full understanding of what they are.
Lastly while sharing the some of the details of the graffiti cases in the past few weeks may be inappropriate, stating specifically the offending word can have a large impact. Supplying this word would provide enough of the missing detail to make the incident feel real, tangible, and urgent to students. When seniors watched a video about college drinking, they walked away speechless. The video showed numerous images of students bleeding, passed out, dead, vomiting, crying, hurting themselves, fighting, all due to intoxicants. While these images were upsetting and occasionally disturbing, they had a large impact, scaring many students into preparing themselves and looking out for others when in college.
Mr. Ball’s speech was important in order to let all those involved and the entire community know that the school is taking a stance against this type of behavior. Nonetheless, we wish he could have explained more about the situation in order to get the most effective response from the student body.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=2702