On Monday night last week, students crowded into Lower Right of Paresky Commons, filled with the anticipation and impatience that annually consumes the student body come mid-Winter Term. In addition to the speculative chatter typical of this time of year, students were also seen clutching cell phones in their hands, their eyes glued to screens as they scrolled through Twitter and refreshed newsfeeds in hopes of a Head of School Day update.
To the disappointment of many, Head of School John Palfrey and his blue squash racquet did not make an appearance Monday evening. This year, more than any other, the community turned to social media as an outlet for student conjecture, frustration and disappointment regarding the scheduling of Head of School Day.
From Monday night to Thursday night, students actively engaged in conversation with Mr. Palfrey through Twitter, directly and indirectly urging him to relieve them of their academic burdens. Facebook statuses, a student-made website, tweets, subtweets and fabricated emails amplified the traditional Head of School Day hype to an unprecedented degree, but negative, demanding and combative posts led many students to temporarily lose sight of the holiday’s true purpose.
Social media has given us a revolutionary mode of communication, one with which we are able to break barriers, including that between the Head of School and the student body. While social media opens communication, it also allowed for unrestrained frustration, impatience and chagrin to permeate campus, revealing an increasing sense of entitlement towards Head of School Day amongst the student body.
Mr. Palfrey has consistently been an advocate for the use of technology on campus, supporting the use of social media in creating a fun and anticipatory atmosphere to surround Head of School Day, yet the demanding student responses detracted from the novelty of the four-day weekend and the nature of Head of School Day as a privilege. When the day was announced on Thursday night, many students felt as though they had received something they had been due, rather than given something for which they should be grateful.
Since its conception in 1991 as a response to an overflowing infirmary by former Head of School Donald McNemar, Head of School Day has been a gift to the student body, rather than an entitlement.
Although the day is meant to give students a day to catch up on work and rest, students cannot and should not rely on Mr. Palfrey to alleviate them of their academic burdens and feel beguiled when their expectations do not pan out. The holiday should, instead, come as an unexpected and pleasant respite from the throes of the bleakest term of the year.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII.