Thursday, May 11, 2006

And You Thought Intimidation Tactics Were Just for Third World Countries and The CIA...

The short version: I'll be turning in the graduation contract, signed, tomorrow.

The long version: well, it's a REALLY long story. It starts with me not wanting to turn in the contract. Anyone that reads this blog already knows my reasoning: I disagree with the heavy handedness of the "agreement" (read forced contract) and I feel that if we're treated as if we're imature losers, we'll act that way. Add to that the fact that I THOUGHT (major emphasis on the word thought, because I learned today that my idea was dead wrong) that I had the freedom to decide whether or not I'd like to go to prom, whether or not I'd like to participate in the graduation ceremony, and whether or not I'd like to sign a stupid piece of paper. Well, I was wrong.

Let me add to all of this that I realize I'm being stupid. I realize this is barely a cause worth fighting for, and that I'm wasting energy that could be better put into something else (like a kick-ass graduation speech). All that said, I also thought this would end up with no harm done, no fouls, and certainly without me being called down to the principal's office. I was wrong.

Today, eigth period, I got called down to the main office. When I got there, Lindsay Suprum gave me a funny smile and then ushered me into Mr. Donnelly's office. When I got there, Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Nesbitt were sitting at their chairs, and they told me to sit down. So I did. They then went on to tell me that I should go to Ursinus because Ursinus is giving me more money. I tried to explain why I wanted to go to Villanova. They didn't listen.

Then, after a few minutes of them making small talk with me, a certain teacher that I greatly respect was also called down. Now, I would assume that s/he had a class to teach (in fact, I know that s/he does), but I guess my little "infraction" warrented that s/he leave his/her class.

After this teacher showed up, Mr. Donnelly asked me if I knew why I was in his office. I, using my great powers of deduction, figured out it was because of the contract. Mr. Donnelly then went on to "ask" me why I didn't want to sign the contract, though it was pretty obvious that he was more interested in waiting until I ended my response so that he could tell me why I was so wrong. He went on to explain how horrible graduation is and how all the students misbehave. He went on to say that I couldn't possible understand how bad all the kids are because I never see them (um, have you ever been in this thing called the hallways?). Mr. Donnelly asked me if I wanted my graduation speech to be heard, or if I wanted it to be interupted by flying male sexual organs (or as I call them, penises). I tried to explain that very few people, even my friends, were going to be listening to me. Mr. Nesbitt started to get really angry and attempt to change my mind. When I attempted to explain my reasoning further, the teacher present pulled me aside to have a "one on one" with me. By that, I mean s/he tried to intimidate me.

In a seperate room, s/he told me how stupid I was being and how much s/he thought that all the precautions at graduation really sucked, but that they were necessary. S/he then told me that it was because of stupid antics like this that I didn't get the CEA scholarship (I bet that information isn't supposed to be out yet, but, um, congratulations to whoever did get it!). Apparently the teachers didn't appreciate my humor. Sigh. I eventually got him/her to calm down enough to explain my reasoning of writing an adendum to the contract and signing it. S/he then proceeded to yell at me for "throwing away money" and told me in colorful language to sign the contract.

I was then brought back to Mr. Donnelly's office, where he remarked, "Wow, that fast, I thought it would take longer." I then sat down, and they proceeded to try and explain to me how much they were like me as a kid, but that they "grew up." They then told me I was being dumb for several reasons. Mr. Donnelly said something about how he was suprised at my lack of morals in this situation. After I assured them I'd sign the contracct, Mr. Donnelly made me promise that I wasn't going to start a petition to boycott the contract (wow, where do they come up with these things?) Oh, yeah, he also made me promise that I wouldn't say anything about this in my graduation speech (does my blog count?). Then both Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Nesbitt told me that they were looking forward to hearing my graduation speech. They really did seem sincere with this comment, though I know they mean they look forward to hearing my neutered, watered down, PC, feels-good-going-down speech. The teacher then yelled at me to leave and told me s/he'd talk to me tomorrow about this whole thing.

Yeah, that's more or less the whole ordeal. There are several things about this that amazes me. The first: I got more attention because of "misbehaving" than I ever did by excelling academically. I don't think I've ever had this long a conversation with Mr. Donnelly before, let along him and Mr. Nesbitt. The second: that they think taking the teacher out of the class to intimidate me was more important than s/he teaching his/her class. Or even that they'd DO such a thing. Third thing: that they're so afraid of what one person can do. I know they don't respect me. You listen to the opinions of people you respect. But clearly they thought it necessary to speak to me because they were afraid I was starting some sort of revolution (it should be noted, and any of my friends will vouche for this, that I never intended nor do I condone a boycott of the contract. I'm one man, and I disagree with it. That's all). Fourth: that an act of passive resistance is so violently attacked by our administration. I'm not exagerating when I say they tried to intimidate me. Though, I don't know how intimidating Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Nesbitt can be... :) I feel that I have the right to or not to participate in any of the events in the coming month. Yes, I am valedictorian. But I was not elected to that position, nor was I appointed to that position. I EARNED that position.

The really interesting thing is that whether or not I sign the contract, by stooping to the level of intimidation tactics, the administration at Chichester has lost. If they have to lower themselves to the level of pointing a figurative pistol to my head in order for me to conform, it is a clear sign that SOMETHING in the administration is wrong. I'm glad I could unearth it.

Well, that's enough of story time with Dave. I hope you had a great time.

Thank you.



Tallxcrunner said...

Man, this was worse than I thought. The problem with this is the system. The system is putting pressure on the administration to sedate the graduates, and consequently, the administration is putting pressure on the graduates to behave. With a shortage of options and time, the easiest thing to do is to force us to comply with silly policies because it is the best that they can do to try to control the environment. When presented with a situation such as this, I think it's best to remember the difference between what is, and what should be.

What I mean is that the contract represents what should be. When you sign your name, that means that you should comply. It does not mean that you have to comply. You are not selling yourself to the contract by signing your name.

This is a tough situation anyway. You're the validictorian, and consequently, there is a lot of weight on your shoulders. Whether or not it is your fault or your right that you've obtained this position, you've been handed the responsibilities of a valedictorian. I'm not suggesting that you should be anything, but that doesn't sway the public's beliefs about you. The public is a dangerous thing, and you have to learn that sometimes they can do some shitty stuff to you. Therefore, you have to pick your battles wisely and conform where necessary. If you choose to revolt something, you have to effectively gather partners to fight with you, have a good case, and a plan for how to deal with the people that disagree with you. If you choose to revolt, you are declaring war. It doesn't matter if you think you're peacefully doing so; ideas are powerful shit. People may lash out at you despite your intentions. Think about that.... and I'm sorry you had to deal with this bullshit. But unfortunately, this won't be the only time. Ask Mr. Orlando, I'm sure he's stared into the face of the man more than once.

I can't guarantee that I will always be on your side with something, but I will look out for your safety. I <3 you Dave, lol. In a purely platonic way of course. Good luck.

Holly said...

I told you that you would sign it. :)

Tallxcrunner said...

Sucks to you Holly ;)

Holly said...

I'm just stating that I know Dave better than he thinks I do. He wants to make a statement and change the world, and don't get me wrong - that is great. But the act of not signing a stupid graduation paper wasn't going to accomplish anything. Why waste your efforts on things that aren't going to have a positive effect on something or someone?

Although Dave, I do enjoy the point you made about how now you are "misbehaving", so they pay more attention to you. It just proves that the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" or whatever that saying is. I agree with you wanting to "squeak" about things you feel strongly about, I just think you should pick something more beneficial to "squeak" about.

By the way, does the he/she teacher happen to be Ms Shulman?? It all seems too Shulman-like. :)

Brett said...

Very interesting story Dave. I wish I had read it yesterday. The "flying male sexual organs" thing is hilarious. I can't believe you made such a big stink in the administration with this thing. I think it's somewhat disappointing that they don't treat those of us who are actually mature as such, instead of grouping us together with the kids that make Chi suck, and supposing that we're all too stupid too understand their point of view. Do they know what mirror neurons are? Just kidding. I find it ironic that they said you lacked morals in this situation. You're probably one of the most moral-aware people here. It's also funny how they automatically assumed you were starting some "screw the contract" movement. Just goes to show you how they view all of us the same. Apparently kids only stir up trouble. All kids.

So, was the teacher Mrs. Shulman? Or maybe Mr. Cole?