Air Guitar Performance Raises Concerns About Community Time

Alice Bolandhemat, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Two to three times per cycle, upper school students and faculty pack the Wrigley theatre during community time, often to hear speakers, presentations, or performances. But on November 26th, during Latin’s annual Thanksgiving assembly, the Latin community saw a very different style of performance. Eight senior boys along with guest star Dean Edwards debuted their lip sync/air guitar band. Dressed in colored wigs, matching t-shirts, and shorts, the group commenced the assembly in a way that it had never been before.  
Traditionally, the Thanksgiving gathering serves as a time to read compliments and show gratitude for fellow classmates as well as faculty and staff members. “Maybe our performance was not presented at the most appropriate time, and I think we regret that,” said Graham Webster ’20, a member of the band. 
Dean of Community Learning Ms. Callis, who works with student government, cites the lack of community time as a reason for the timing of the performance. “It was originally planned for a different time, but it had to be moved on several occasions before it was finally decided to be put in the Thanksgiving assembly,” she said. 
Webster illustrated the group’s intentions when saying, “We noticed that engagement levels were low among the student body. Community time is a vital part of the school day, and we simply wanted to incorporate more fun into gathering. None of us had any bad intentions. We think that the school is a judgement-free zone. It was an idea that seemed funny to us. ”
 Aside from the timing, many concerns surrounding the band address its potential exclusivity and lack of appropriateness. “After we performed, I discussed it in one of my classes. Some felt it was merely one friend group on the stage. It would not be possible to have a performance with every audience member. It would also be strange to perform with people I am unfamiliar with,” said senior Aidan Jagasia, another member of the band. 
Additionally, the attire of the boys, including denim shorts, caught some community members off-guard. “As someone who identifies as a female, I think that had I gone onto that stage in that sort of clothing, I would be called names, talked about, and likely even faced other consequences. We, as a school, need to examine the way we hold ourselves accountable for the sake of equity,” said a student who wished to keep their identity unknown.  
In response to this sentiment, Jagasia added, “I think people are overthinking it in that way. It is surface-level to only consider our clothing, and I don’t think it was an example of toxic masculinity.”  
So, what exactly was the aftermath of the air guitar band’s debut? “We could sense the negative response,” said Webster. Noticeably, a few faculty members left the theatre in the midst of the song. Ms. Callis stresses that when it comes to community time, the students possess most of the agency. “While one of the main goals is for students to own student spaces, I did have a conversation with Student Government regarding concerns and feedback that I had heard from students,” said Callis.  
It is difficult to set a strict standard for what should occur during community time, but it is important that presentations are consistent with Latin’s ideology. “We sometimes leave room for only some voices to be present in a space that is meant for the community as a whole. I think that as a school, we need to make sure that what we are putting on the stage is representative of the larger community and honoring our values” concluded Callis.