We all know about the stereotypical geek or nerd trope, standard on television and other media: unkempt, socially awkward hermits, obsessed with computers and watching anime. In thousands of schools across the country, bullies often target these students, calling them names like “geek” or “nerd” simply because they care about school work and love learning.
Andover, however, is different. Our school is academically rigorous and attracts bright students who understand that being smart isn’t a disadvantage. The Andover community respects academic passion and excellence in the classroom. Our culture embraces words like “geek” and “nerd” without fear of judgement or ostracism.
Thus, as Juniors, the two of us were surprised to see Exeter Geek Day on our Spirit Week schedule. While the intention is, of course, to show school pride and continue our friendly rivalry, this annual tradition makes fun of our own students as much as it does Exeter’s. We forget to be mindful. By wearing broken glasses and suspenders and carrying graphing calculators, we promote a culture of exclusion that we have tried hard to eliminate.
An unchallenged tradition that permits the generalization of others is unacceptable. While it is easy to lose ourselves in the hype of the Andover-Exeter rivalry, it is vital that we find another way to compete with Exeter and celebrate our long standing rivalry without evoking and perpetuating inaccurate and degrading stereotypes about students who enjoy their studies.
We are fully aware that Exeter Geek Day is a celebrated tradition with a long history. But as times change, so must Andover. Instead of using school spirit as a guise to attack qualities that we should admire, let us instead redefine Exeter Geek Day by removing the stereotypical “nerd” or “geek” component. Wear the suit and tie uniform or complain about your upcoming Saturday classes: there are other ways to tease Exeter that do not include making Andover students feel uncomfortable or, worse, unwelcome. This way, the unique passions and interests that make Andover so special can be celebrated, not attacked.