Next month, the first issue of the school paper, The Ivy, will hit the campus. In anticipation of its arrival, the SMUS Review brings a sneak peek at one of the articles that it will feature.
by Kelsey Harbord
It’s 7:45 on a Monday morning. You’re either already awake, out the door and on your way to school, or just waking up to the sound of your roommate’s alarm clock. At lunch, either you try to enjoy the same chicken you had for dinner last night in Brown Hall, or a selection of homemade sandwiches and muffins in the quad. After school, you go home. Whether it’s a twenty-minute drive away or a two-minute walk to the other side of campus, it’s where you live during most of the year.
Obviously there are more differences between day students and boarders than where we eat and sleep, but the truth is, the differences have created an ever-present division between the two communities. Understanding what truly sets the two apart is the first step towards bridging the gap. It’s the preconceived ideas and misconceptions that make the most impact on our limited interactions with each other.
An idea that has just been put into action this year, is one that will help to explain the void between boarding life and the outside world; The Duty Partners Program gives six day students an inside look at life on campus after-hours, and a ticket into a family coming from all over the world. The day students are assigned to houses and participate in boarding house games, dinners, and meetings and of course, evening duties. The goal is to make individual connections with boarders in each house, and ultimately with the entire boarding community.
“I used to think that boarders would just go back to their rooms and play video games,” said Paul Tut when asked what his initial idea of boarding was. “But this has proven otherwise.” Rory Lattimer said “Initially, I assumed boarding life to be a lot stricter,” adding that he was pleasantly surprised when he realized just how laid back the whole community really is.
Life behind the windows of the boarding buildings is often hugely different from what might at first be perceived; it’s something one must experience firsthand to truly fathom. Yet even the simple act of spending time in the houses has begun to make an impact on some of the prejudices.
“I’ve heard from a lot of boarders that they feel intimidated by day students and vice versa”, said Nikki van der Wal, but she feels this is a great opportunity to build strong relationships between boarding and day students. And essentially that is all we need: an excuse to look past the intimidation factor and build relationships with our counterparts.
So far, both boarders and day students have eagerly accepted the experiment, and are looking forward to everything that is to come – boarding house games in particular. Johnny Humphries, an “ex-almost boarder,” believes that if the upbeat attitude continues, this project has the potential to make a great difference. For Paul, even just carrying a conversation with boarders from Bolton is easier, now that he has met them a few times and gotten to know them.
So, is this the end-all solution in the quest to a more unified school? Probably not in itself, but it is a program that will undoubtedly help to make a difference. So next time you’re driving to school on a Monday morning, or walking down the steps from your boarding room five minutes before class, think of striking up a conversation at recess with a day student or a boarder, because with continued enthusiasm and effort from both sides, the wall will fall.