by Thomas Hochman
Last year, the Upper School dedicated an X Period to “Community Conversations” in response to the critique that OES does little to foster open dialogue, opening a few mildly contentious subjects up for discussion.
Ultimately, while the idea was well-intentioned, the consensus among students was that it didn’t work — trying to tackle certain issues under with faculty members in the room scared students out of sharing unpopular opinions, and the decision to assign everyone clear roles while responding to carefully picked prompts made the whole affair seem somewhat robotic and inauthentic.
Nevertheless, the opportunities for OES to support free expression are abundant.
This past week, the Dig planned to publish an article detailing the process and reasoning behind OES’s recent decision to ask two students to leave the school. We spent hours interviewing numerous faculty and students, received their explicit permission to quote them, and began to write the story.
On Friday morning, we learned that no such article would be published “to protect the privacy of the students.” The verdict from the administration wasn’t subject to debate.
It was, and is, a tough position to be in. We want to honor confidentiality, of course, even when it is clear that the basic facts of the story are well known among the student body. The Dig is sensitive to the fact that we operate on the internet — what we put here is for the whole world to see. As a result, The Dig staff had a long conversation about the weight that the article might carry, and had already opted to change the names of the student involved. With that said, we felt an obligation to recognize, document, and reflect on the fact that we lost two well-established, widely known members of our community.
But the decision wasn’t ours, and at the request of the administration, the story was tabled.
While the Dig still hopes to publish an article regarding the situation, the larger question that remains is how we, as a community, engage in honest discussions. Where are the lines between public and private information? What does it mean to be a student newspaper?
Hopefully, the answers to these types of questions will lead to more meaningful discourse.
Thanks for reading.