Student Center Divide Raises Controversy
by The Milton Measure on Friday, November 16th, 2012Traditionally, underclassmen have been the subjects of intimidating stares from upperclassmen peering over the railing in the student center. This year, Class IV students have reported incidents of thrown objects and spitting, causing adults and students alike to take action in an attempt to change upperclassmen ways.
Dean of Students Jose Ruiz explained that he has “heard from Class IV deans…reports from students who have experienced what they perceive to be either spitting of some sort whether it be liquid or actual spit itself or the flicking of items, food and things of that sort.”
“There are a few individuals in the upper classes who are throwing things down on the freshman,” and “who for some reason find [it] funny,” Mr. Fitzpatrick, Class IV dean, shared. He conveyed that to his knowledge, “people had spit, [and] tic-tacs, paper, [and] banana peels [were] thrown down.”
An anonymous Class IV girl admitted that she witnessed “a junior [throwing] a box of tampons at [her] friend.” Jacob Aronoff, also Class IV, disclosed that he was hit by a banana. “I just looked up and it was on my shoulder.”
Ms. Morin, head of counseling at Milton, explained that she has also “been aware of students throwing things down,” as well as “girls feeling judged by students that are over the railing.” Mr. Beauchmin, a Class II dean, echoed this sentiment, expressing how it can be “intimidating to have a large group staring down into the crowd below.”
The Class IV deans became aware of this issue when they “decided that [they] wanted to have gender assemblies and at those meetings had specific questions [they] wanted to ask about comfort level,” said Mr. Fitzpatrick. He added that at this assembly, “some young lady, very brave, stood up and said she didn’t appreciate things being thrown on her from up above.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick explained that he and Mrs. Steimle, the other Class IV dean, “decided that [they] would talk to the administration about [the issue].”
Mr. Ruiz said the administration “talked to the class deans and asked them to address the issues with their respective classes. I have sat with SGA and talked with all the class representatives to come up with ideas and ways in which we can address the issue with the students.”
Although he believes “it’s a very small percentage of students that are probably involved in the behavior…it is happening and the fact of the matter is that even if it happens to one student, it needs to be addressed.” This reasoning is crucial to explaining to the Milton Community why these incidents have to be such a big issue. “It does have a strong effect on the kids who say they have been spat on or thrown at or feeling judged by,” Ms. Morin said.
The timing of the introduction of this problem was also a factor that added to its magnitude. Mr. Fitzpatrick questioned that, “because it happened so quickly in the school year, [it] made me think…what are freshman thinking about this school.” Mr. Ruiz echoed this discomfort, feeling that “there was a sense from students that it did not feel welcoming.”
Information regarding the power structure of the student center and the actions that have occurred there this year are being conveyed to the administration “in relation to the beginning of school, [has] decreased,” but this is not to say the problems have disappeared.
Ms. Morin stresses how the Milton Academy Community needs to reach “a level of awareness and recognition that this is an issue” in order to eliminate the hurt that may be occurring within Class IV. “The best possible outcome for me is that Class II and I hold each other accountable for their behavior and take this into their own hands,” agreed Mr. Fitzpatrick, providing a challenge for upperclassman to take the initials steps to making the student center a comfortable, equally shared environment.
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