A team from Business Insider videotaped students, walled in by Phillips Exeter Academy’s locked iron gates, shuffling around the manicured brown grass of Exeter’s lawn last Friday to profile the school as part of their recent “Prisons of America” Docuseries. The team, consisting of a videographer and a writer, were instantly shocked at the sight of campus.
“There were no paths… just a bunch of students with these awful uniforms crying and walking in circles around a patch of cleared dirt. I tried to help them, but there was nothing I could do,” said Julia Stacks, a reporter from Business Insider.
After a brief scuffle with Exeter Public Safety, known by the students as “wardens,” the reporters visited one of the many dorms on campus, where about 40 students are detained. Each room consists of simply one or two thin mattresses, a built-in dresser, and a desk. There are no windows.
“We pride ourselves on complete uniformity here at Exeter. Individuality is strictly prohibited — we want every single student to live in an identical environment, a safe space if you will. We like to think of ourselves as an assembly line; every student comes in with a unique perspective on the world, and at Exeter that sense of autonomy is crushed. And our cells — sorry, dorm rooms — reflect that,” said Ashley Curtins, Head of Residential Life at Exeter.
Some students, however, still find clever ways to reflect their personal style while decorating their dorm rooms. Among the most creative mentioned in the article by Business Insider were large numbers of tally marks on dorm room walls.
“I spend my night scratching these after our 11:00 p.m. lights out. It’s the only thing that keeps me going,” said a student who wishes to remain unnamed for fear of angering the administration.