Tag Archives: campus

The Opposite of Hazing


Photo by Jim Inverso

by Amanda Acutt, school counselor and Paul Weiss, athletics director

Last spring Amanda and I presented a concept during assembly that we described as “the opposite of hazing.”  Our intent was to challenge the community to engage in purposeful behaviors that we called “Friending.”  Essentially, we asked the community to embrace the concept of engaging in pro-social, empathetic, and sometimes uncomfortable, leadership behavior. We were trying to communicate the behaviors and feelings that underpin being in a safe, supportive, and mindful community of Friends.

Most people are generally familiar with the definition of hazing. Traditionally the term is applied to ritual abuse used as an initiation rite in fraternities, sororities, military settings, sports, or clubs.  The actual definition of hazing has recently expanded to include “any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, alienation, or ridicule, and risks emotional and/or physical harm to an individual, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”*

Many institutions provide community education and resources focused on identifying, reporting, and preventing hazing, and we believe this is an important part of culture creation.  However, our intent is to address culture creation in a different way.  We would like to start a dialog about an intentional approach to creating a safe, mutually supportive, and empathetic school culture or as we like to call it, the opposite of hazing.

This proactive approach to culture creation is consistent with many of the fundamental elements of a Friends community. The George School Mission (found HERE) says the following: “Students learn about the tension between the individual and community, that fairness and justice are inherently tied to each other.  They learn to express themselves without trampling others…” and “…in what seems a fitting fulfillment of our mission, George School students joyously go out in the world comfortable in their self-awareness and confident that they can make the world a better, kinder place.”

Our mission is not simply to educate academically, it is to perpetuate the values inherent in a Friends community, and for George School graduates to carry these values with them. When we ask if there is hazing in our community, we are asking the wrong question.  Instead, we should ask interconnected questions like:

  • What does it mean to intervene, to be a hero, to champion someone else, to be empathetic?
  • How aware are you of how others feel, of whether someone feels excluded, unheard, unseen, or uncomfortable?
  • What can you do, individually and collectively, to take responsibility for each other?

One of the things that is lost when we talk explicitly about hazing is the proactive ways in which we can do more for each other and our community.  The higher-level expectation is to seek out opportunities to connect with each other, particularly individuals and groups in the community who are most likely to feel different, disconnected, alienated, misunderstood, or invisible.

There are many examples of George School students exhibiting behaviors that embody the opposite of hazing. Here are just a few.

  • The student who sees a new student in the dining hall looking around nervously and calls out “come sit with us!”
  • The student who stops another student in class who is disrespecting a first year teacher.
  • The student who sees another student is upset and walks them over to the Student Health and Wellness Center, stays with them, and offers to let that student join her group of friends so they feel less alone and more connected.
  • A student who sets up a meeting with the school counselor to ask for tips on how to help a friend through a difficult time.

These examples are real. These students did not know they were being observed, and had no motive other than their belief that their behavior was the right thing to do.

Perpetuating a culture of treating each other as Friends is not limited to students interacting with each other.  This is one of the reasons we call everyone by his or her first name; we try to foster an environment in which every individual has intrinsic value, and making sure we see, hear, recognize, and care for each other is the shared thread in the fabric of our community.

The call to action is simple: strive to be intentional, externally aware, and empathetic.  Thinking about what behaviors not to do is a start, but leadership and positive culture creation is a deliberate process.

When the intent to do the “opposite of hazing” is shared by many, the effect is powerful.

*paraphrased from www.hazingprevention.org

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Filed under A Day in the Life, Faculty and Staff, Students

A Conversation with Kathy Coyle

An interview with Kathy Coyle conducted by Chloe ’16. Check out some of Chloe’s other posts on the blog including: Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Filling Your Empty Canvases (Making a Dorm Room Feel Like a Home, Not a Box), and Speaking of Squirrels.

Hey Kathy!

Hey Chloe

You excited? You look super excited.

I’m so pumped! Continue reading

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A Conversation with Stephen Moyer

An interview with Stephen Moyer ’82 conducted by Chloe ’16. Check out some of Chloe’s other posts on the blog including: Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Filling Your Empty Canvases (Making a Dorm Room Feel Like a Home, Not a Box), and Speaking of Squirrels.

Hi Stephen!

Hi Chloe.

Whats your position here at George School?

I am a member of the Religion Department teaching Essentials of a Friends Community and Holistic Health. I have taught Spiritual Practices and Quakerism as well. I’m also the faculty sponsor to the Model United Nations club. I coach all of the running sports–boys and girls cross-country and boys and girls indoor and outdoor track so I’m coaching all three seasons and I’m the head of Drayton Dormitory with my beloved wife, Laurie. Continue reading

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Harvest Weekend

teenage boy sitting on brick bench. a tree and brick building are in the background

Michael Silver ’16

by Michael Silver ’16, Admission Office ambassador

At George School, we have many weekends dedicated to certain topics. Recently, George School hosted Harvest Weekend, one of the most exciting seasonal weekends of the year. Highlights from the weekend included pumpkin carving, hayrides, a haunted house, a costume dance, and apple butter making. Needless to say, much of the campus spent the weekend enthralled in the fun activities. Personally, I particularly enjoyed pumpkin carving, and found it to be a new, intriguing, and joyously laborious event. Continue reading

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Filed under A Day in the Life, Admission Office, Students

New Year, New Goals

by Tiffany Olszuk, Advancement Office Intern

Tiffany Olszuk is a 2012 graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a resident of New Jersey. When she is not assisting with development projects, she enjoys coaching swimming, singing, and reading positive psychology or sport psychology research.

It’s that time of year when people begin to reflect on the ups and downs of the past year and map out their road in the New Year. For some, this means generating New Year’s resolutions. Whether they are made to be broken or not, it is my opinion that the act of engaging in quiet reflection and focusing thoughts has great potential to generate a sense of optimism or renewed energy going into a new year.

As someone who recently joined the George School staff, I find myself reflecting on all the ways that I have been welcomed by staff, students, and faculty since my first round of interviews and campus tour just a few short months ago. My collective experiences at George School thus far have inspired me to set a few George School related goals before the end of the academic year. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would share a few of my goals—perhaps others share my sentiments!

Goal 1: Attend another Quaker meeting (perhaps more than one!).

  • Prior to working at George School, my experiences in a Quaker community were limited to studying contemplative traditions at Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. I dedicated one semester to exploring contemplative traditions in both the United States and Japan and had the opportunity to study the role of silence and mindfulness in Quakerism as well as experience my first Quaker meeting. It was during this time that I realized the value of mindful activities in focusing thoughts and energy or reducing daily stresses. I attended Quaker meeting at George School in November and I was immediately transported back to my collegiate experiences with Quakerism.  The act of being still and engaging in a spiritual community was so centering that I am making it a goal to attend another meeting this year.

Goal 2:  Enjoy the many beautiful spaces on campus.

  • In the two months that I have been on staff, I have seen South Lawn transform into a beautiful canvas with pink, gold, and red hues at sundown (ideal for meditation!) to a sports arena, to an icy winter scene in which I can hear students bursting with laughter or the occasional sound of a snowball whipping through the air. I can’t wait to cheer on the Cougars at sporting events in the spring and take in the peaceful scenery within the next few months.
  • The Anderson Library is another location on my “to visit” list. I distinctly remember stepping into the Library for the first time during my campus tour and being amazed by the floor-to-ceiling windows. It makes me wonder whether George School students draw inspiration for their writing assignments just from being in that space…I know it would inspire me!  I hope to spend some time writing there in the future or perhaps participate in the weekly mindfulness practices held there.

Goal 3: Have more conversations with George School students.

  • I occasionally run into students via advancement office co-ops or brief dashes to the post-office or bookstore. Each time that I do, I learn more about George School and I am reminded of how each student makes unique and meaningful contributions to the George School community.  Whether I am learning about students’ athletic interests and community service activities, or trying to figure how the flamingo trend started (or where they will appear next!)I enjoy these brief interactions, as they  often  motivate me to want to do more to help improve the George School experience through my work.

These are just a few goals that I’m looking forward to working towards in 2014. I would be curious to see what other  members of the George School community are aspiring to in order  to “let their lives speak” in the new year. I invite you to share or comment below!

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