June 23, 2018

“Peers And Facilitators?” More Like “Peers, And Still Discriminators”

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This is an Opinions article arguing the con-standpoint. For the pro-standpoint, see Libby Cornelssen’s article.

Christina de Fontnouvelle ’12
Editor-in-Chief

A slouching kid sniggers with his friend, pointing at a student who walked in donning a unique hairdo. A strutting girl flips her hair and breezes arrogantly past a shy classmate who just mustered up the courage to say “hi.”

“So what?” you ask, “That’s just your typical high school kid — deal with is.”

True, I agree that a typical high school student is often mean and selfish, and I accept that fact. However, for students who sign up to be leaders in a program that supposedly creates “a more understanding environment through open discussion and the sharing of ideas,” and maintains that communication is the key to making sure that “each individual’s unique perspective contributes to the diversity of the community,” such a cold attitude is more than just typical — it is downright hypocritical.

In case you haven’t already guessed, the “program” I am referring to is Peers and Facilitators (PaF), an organization that seeks to foster understanding and a celebration of uniqueness among the student body via student-led activities on half days, as stated on http://whspaf.wikispaces.com/. And yes, the slouching kid and the strutting girl are students that I know and who are PaF leaders.

Let me get this straight — I am 100% for the ideals PaF advocates, nor am I by any means negating that some PaF leaders do indeed take these values to heart. It would indeed be wonderful if the high school community could truly come together, communicate, and embrace all students’ unique voices and perspectives. However, blatant hypocrisy on the part of PaF leaders will simply not achieve that aim.

As a freshman, I walked into my first PaF session nervous yet excited to have the opportunity to share my ideas with my peers in an accepting setting. Yet as I entered the room, my jaw dropped. Standing at the front of the room, preparing an activity with a couple of other students, was the senior girl who had laughed and pointed at my flowery flounce skirt on the first day of school. I immediately closed up like a clam shell while the “leaders” attempted to prompt a discussion involving balloons and flashcards in a room full of rowdy freshmen.

Understandably, I haven’t been very enthusiastic about PaF ever since, but I have kept an open mind. Yet I have always met disappointment. I have seen a PaF leader openly ignore a girl she deemed unpopular, literally turning her back to her at the lunch table. I have watched as a PaF leader smiled sarcastically and arrogantly at the sight of a classmate’s less-than-stellar grade. I have listened to a PaF leader bad-mouth a girl behind her back.

No wonder PaF’s activities turn out less-than-stellar, and no wonder there is a less-than-stellar attendance record on PaF days. Who wants to come in to hear the classmates who tease and exclude them lecture them on acceptance and community?

PaF is a great idea, but it will only see success once all its leaders truly commit themselves to the ideals they say (and proclaim on their résumés) that they advocate.

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