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Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

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Changes In Policies transform five-day boarder life

Imagine you’re a 5-day boarder who lives in New Jersey. The weekend coming up has a lot of on-campus events for you. On Saturday, there’s Semi-Formal and on Sunday you have a six-hour tech rehearsal. So you asked if you would be allowed to stay on campus for that weekend. And you are told no. So you have to commute for hours taking the train to go home,, only to come back to school, only to go home again.   

Many five-day boarders don’t have to imagine this and similar situations. They’ve lived it.  

In previous years, 5-day boarders have been allowed to stay on campus for some weekends, because of school obligations, and, on some occasions, special trips or events. 

Whether it be for a game, performance, or a trip,  5-day boarders would put in a pass using the app for boarding location tracking, Orah, asking permission to stay on campus, to be approved by the Director of Residential Life as long as it happened at noon on Saturday.  

This year, however, the 5-day boarders rules are being enforced in a way that they haven’t in recent years. For example, if a 5-day boarder had a game, or tech rehearsal a 5-day boarder is allowed to stay if it happens before noon on Saturday, with no exceptions. But if that requirement happens on a Sunday or even 1 p.m. on that same Saturday, that student would have to leave,  commute home, and then return to campus. There are some instances where five-day boarders were not allowed to stay even for community events like semi-formal weekend when they had been allowed to in previous years. 

As a school, it is our job to ensure the systems we build are as equitable as they possibly can be. Consistently enforcing policy is our best effort to promote fairness and clarity within those systems.

— Tristan Kishonis

The Family Handbook has always stated that 5-day boarders could only stay on campus for community weekends and for school obligations that fell by 12 noon on Saturday, but it has never been strictly enforced by previous heads of residential life in the last handful of years, and 5-days with school obligations have always been given the grace to stay. This has caught many of the 5-day boarders off guard, breaking the status quo set by previous administrators, and angering many of the 5-day boarding community. 

Tristan Kishonis recognized the difficulty of the issue but explained that as the new Head of Residential Life, he is obligated to uphold the rules written out for him, even if past Heads have bent that rule. 

He said, “The truth is, that this policy predates me. This has been the case prior to my arrival here. And so the affordance of saying, ‘If you have something on noon Saturday, you can stay over on Friday,’ is something we’re trying to do in the spirit of being flexible.” He continued, “As a school, it is our job to ensure the systems we build are as equitable as they possibly can be. Consistently enforcing policy is our best effort to promote fairness and clarity within those systems. In this case, there are many reasons a student may request to stay over Friday evening, and our goal in maintaining a noon cut-off is to ensure that we have a clear indicator for students – regardless of the commitment they are staying for – of if they will have the option to stay should they choose. ” 

 Although the issue of enforcing this weekend stay-over policy and restriction for five-day boarders has been one of the big adjustments since the beginning of the school year, another major one was the introduction of a new all-five-day boarder dorm: Cushing, specifically for female-identifying students. 

Last school year, Cushing was a gender-expansive dorm where students could live in a dorm that had people of all gender identities included. Now Cushing has become a 5-day boarder dorm, where 5-day boarder girls live on one floor, as a part of Cushing dorm, and 5-day boarder boys live on another floor, as part of Strong dorm. 

Chloe Mackay 26’, a 5-day boarder and resident in Cushing, had much to say about this new dorm. “You’re kind of secluded from the rest of the border community. I feel isolated from my seven-day peers all the time. First of all, there is a policy enforcing more rules that make it harder for you to stay on the weekend and attend weekend trips, which are the foundations of dorm bonding.” Mackay continued, “Especially with us being all the way up the hill to be separated from all the circle dorms, it makes it a lot harder for us to interlock with other 7-day boarder girls or any other 7-day boarders.” 

5-day boarders aren’t the only ones feeling the distance between the two types of boarders. Alina Fagan 24’, a 7-day boarder, has also felt the space. “I think there’s definitely been more of a focus on separating 5-day boarders from 7-day boarders. It feels like they’re less welcome on the weekends when everyone relaxes and hangs out, which causes a divide.”

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