Contrary to story, her experience at school has been empowering
I was shocked and disappointed to read Kay Lazar’s front-page story about Deerfield Academy (“ ‘It’s a pretty toxic place for girls,’ ” Dec. 29), which paints the institution as a sort of “animal house.” I am a senior at Deerfield Academy and the other co-editor in chief of the Deerfield Scroll, the student newspaper. I have two moms, consider myself a proud feminist, and have worked on a variety of gender initiatives throughout my time at Deerfield.
In fact, I was contacted by Lazar as she wrote the story. I shared with her a very different view of the school than those depicted in the article — a view of a place where the faculty and administration are fiercely working to empower girls. The gender issues I’ve dealt with at Deerfield would be the same at every other school, because we have a gender problem in this country. However, Deerfield faculty and administrators are more than willing to shine a light on gender issues and have given me the tools I need to deal with them now and in the future.
I have been given leadership positions at Deerfield precisely because of, not in spite of, my desire to confront gender issues. I have been supported by countless faculty members and fellow students; I have become a part of a school that values inclusion.
It is ironic that Lazar seems to be shining a light on what she portrays as major gender issues at Deerfield, where boys’ needs are prioritized over those of girls, yet she herself chose to quote my male co-editor in chief, Joshua Fang, leaving my quotes on the cutting room floor.
The Deerfield of yesterday isn’t the Deerfield of today.
Whistle-blower’s battle is dismayingly familiar
I read with dismay, but also a sense of familiarity, the text of Sonja O’Donnell’s lawsuit against the trustees of Deerfield Academy. Among the reasons the #MeToo movement has yet to make a dent in the “boys will be boys” culture of many academic institutions are that the price paid by those who dare to challenge it is high and at times the discrimination against whistle-blowers is so subtle that it is hard for those outside the academy to understand its impact. I hope that this story will encourage discussions about the need to protect all vulnerable parties.
School’s exceptional leader should have been mentioned by name
Kay Lazar’s article about Deerfield Academy had one particularly glaring omission that I must point out. She wrote, “Students and alumni are still chafing over a message earlier this year from Deerfield’s top administrator to ‘Deerfield girls’ ” that suggested that female students more “carefully consider [their] clothing choices.”
The author of the message in question is the female head of school, Margarita Curtis. Curtis has been the head of school at Deerfield since 2006, and her remarkable accomplishments are worth noting.
It is an unfortunate oversight to fail to mention that the head of this so-called toxic place for girls for the last 12 years has been a woman, and an exceptional one at that.
San Marino, Calif.