This school year was kicked off by the annual upper school Face-It diversity retreat. According to my friend and organizer Jasmin Harvey, the overnight seminar was filled with heartfelt discussions, thoughtful insight on racial, socio-economic, and gender topics, and the exciting night games of a sleepover. Unfortunately, I could not attend Face It this year. Because of my busy schedule of SAT work, college applications, and schoolwork, I could only experience Face-It vicariously through the anecdotes of my friends.
The sadness I felt in missing Face- It made me reflect on the overall structure of the retreat. Because the diversity intensive demands 31 hours of the weekend, it puts a severe time constraint on the students that participate. Although the Marlborough faculty endorses the participation of the multi-cultural program, most do not make schoolwork provisions that would make the student’s load more manageable. Those reasons, and my mother, persuaded me to miss the retreat.
I know this time management issue forces students like myself, who love to share diversity, to miss the intensive for other obligations. Furthermore, the inflexibility of teachers to extend deadlines or excuse homework discourages the admittance of new members and further deter students who have not had the experiences from previous years to encourage them to apply again.
Although Face-It is a fantastic retreat, this time issue can negatively affect Face- It in the future because it is affecting the support of the program. The purpose of Face-It is to spread a diverse awareness of the school community, but the retreat cannot achieve that if new members of the student body fail to join, because those willing to make time are often already accepting of diverse backgrounds.
The school should provide an incentive to attend the retreat, like a no-homework weekend for attendees, in order to pull new members to the program. If the same participants come every year, they will probably learn something new, but the goal of total community involvement is not reached. A no-homework weekend would encourage new students from different grades to be exposed and hopefully head the program when the upper school students leave for college.
As an alumni participant of Face-It, I would like to spread the word about the great change they enacted in myself in two days. I want the student body to feel less pressured by outside obligations, and by creating a no-homework weekend for participants, students will be able to devote all their attention to becoming more accepting.