Sticks and Stones

Rachel Stone Co-Editor-in-Chief As the line of backpacks sprawled against the cafeteria doors would suggest, Latin prides itself on being more of a community of students than a typical school environment. We value closeness and cohesion and a certain sense of camaraderie not found in most schools, and after at least four years, we know more about our fellow students than what classes they’re taking. While this can be wonderful, it can also be detrimental in terms of what information we hear and why we hear it. Consider the Latin Gossip Pressure Effect, or the ability of Latin gossip to ricochet off students and locker bays like particles within a closed system, building pressure within the small boundaries of the school community.  Now think of this effect in light of current school events. Everyone who is reading this article might understand the subtext; we all know (more or less) about what happened in a certain school stairway between a certain two individuals about two weeks ago. We know there was drama, we know there was violence, and we know this because our school (population: 430-something) is not ashamed to admit that information circulates at a startling rate. Yet, the Latin Gossip Pressure Effect is not what I’m concerned about. Why did the school find out what happened? Because someone was punched, because within the confines of such a small and interconnected school community, because within the private school setting of the Latin School, such violence (that is usually somewhat standard in the average high school sitcom) isn’t present, and because drama makes for easy conversation. We reacted to the violence, and we spread information about the violence. What does it say about our school if most of us didn’t wonder why the punch was thrown, but instead simply accepted the information? We didn’t place as much importance on the offensive comments that were made before the certain act of violence in the certain staircase, and we didn’t discuss the impact of the words themselves with equal importance as the physical act of violence itself. Now I understand that the Latin Gossip Pressure Effect isn’t going to go away, and I understand that dramatic physical action is far more exciting than “I heard a freshman said something super offensive and borderline bigoted to a senior,” but things don’t have to exist the way they always have. We could begin to place equal importance on verbal and emotional violence, we could acknowledge that things have probably been said before that we haven’t paid attention to because they haven’t resulted in violence, and we could also realize that we go to a school that is incredibly tolerant and cohesive and open, and that if one person being punched in a staircase is the worst of the violence, we’re pretty lucky. I don’t believe that the Latin Gossip Pressure Effect will go away any faster than the Latin Bubble itself, and I don’t think that the camaraderie that has characterized the school should be sacrificed on the basis of reducing gossip, but I do think that the next time a subtle scandal occurs, we students have a responsibility to consider more information than what might currently be whispered in corridors and after gathering blocks. Try it. You heard it here first.]]>