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New school policies

The changes in school policies were an attempt made for the best interest of the students. Assistant dean of students Coleman Weibley said, “The idea [of the new policies] is working with students to find a common ground of what’s expected and how we enforce it and try to make it fair for the students.” The dress code is a notable policy that was changed. The new dress code policy states covering from armpits to mid-thighs is only in semi-form and standard dress, and no longer pertains to casual. “The big thing that students felt was that the school shouldn't determine what they wear in their free time,” said Weibley.

There was also another major update in the dorm visitation policy. Under this new policy, eleventh and twelfth-grade students are allowed to close their doors to brick-length after the fall term. It also outlined expectations for visitations from same-gendered dorms which is that students must have a host regardless of one’s gender, identity, or the gender assignment of the dorm. According to Weibley, the need for change was recognized by the student-faculty committee after learning from other schools. This new policy aims to have a clear understanding for both faculties and students while including key variables such as equity and gender-neutrality. However, Weibley, along with others in charge of rule changes, acknowledged that no policies will be perfect and satisfy everyone –– the discussion around the visitation policy is rather difficult as Mercersburg has a largely binary dorm system.

The third and final change was the behavioral feedback system. The previous behavioral system was established two years ago, when there were only term-long classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy allowed for points to be reset each term. Even though term classes were eventually eliminated, the point carry over policy stayed the same. Slight changes were made to meet the needs of the school and to hold students accountable. This year, class cuts and other behaviors do not reset every term, but the student count record resets every term. Weibley states his hoped outcome from the new policy:, “...hopefully [it] holds students to a higher standard of making sure they are where they need to be and also holds the students who try to gain the system a little more accountable in that sense.”

The student's voices were heavily considered in changing school policies such as dress code. Student-faculty committee member Nora Smith ‘24 shared how proud she is of the new policy, “I’m really happy that our work paid off and I think the changes made such as crop tops during casual and the dress code being much clearer now are very positive.”

Returning student Clare Ip ‘23 expressed her opinion on the new dress code and the old policy, she said, “The new dress code allows people to be more comfortable and actually wear the clothes they brought here. Last year, I wasn’t fully aware of the dress code policy so sometimes I wouldn’t know if what I’m wearing is allowed.”

Main prefect Matt Wang ‘23 offered his perspective of the visitation policy as a student leader, “The previous policy was that if someone comes to your dorm to visit and then if he left and there was money loss, then the suspect is the person from the other dorm. But the new policy needs the visitors to stick and stay with their hosts, then this visitor will not be as suspected as much.”

However, the new policies do not agree with everyone. Paloma Casariego ‘24, a Fowle Hall prefect, agreed with Wang but gave some insight on how she feels as a student and a friend, “I know that this rule was implemented to prevent theft but I don’t like it as a prefect because I have the disadvantage that I can’t go to my friend's dorm and that makes me feel more excluded since I live in Fowle.”

Samuel Zhao ‘24 notes that the visitation policy is quite inconvenient, he said, “I live in Main and I want to visit my friends in Tippetts, but I always end up having to wait in front of the door standing awkwardly, waiting for my friend (host) to open the door which takes a lot of time and bothers me sometimes.”

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