Getting it Right with the “Men’s Division”


Photo by Jacob Anthony Amaro

Convocation is a powerful tradition at St. Benedict’s. In his essay, William Register calls for the present “Boys Division” to be re-named the “Mens Division.”

William Register, Staff Writer

A favorite Convocation story of Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy ‘63, O.S.B., discusses the short-lived “High Street Academy.” This was the new name for St. Benedict’s after its reopening in 1973. Over the years, the school, like the city, had transitioned from being mainly white to becoming predominantly Black. One day, soon after the opening of “High Street,” one parent of an African-American student asked Fr. Ed why the school wasn’t still called St. Benedict’s. Didn’t his son and fellow students deserve that honored school name? In relating the story recently, Fr. Ed said he and other school administrators did not have an answer. “The next day,” he said, “the school went back to being called St. Benedict’s.” 

Sometimes, simple questions, innocently asked, can be a spark for great change. Like the one before us now, raised during Convo in July.  Fr. Ed questioned the term “Boys Division” at Convo, given the history of the word “boy” in relation to Black men in the United States. The connotation that it carries is not positive as it was used to belittle Black men just as the n-word was and still is.

The question is new because there is only now a “Boys” Division because there is a newly created “Girls” Division. Until now, the high school was referred to as the “Prep” Division.

The change presents us with a golden opportunity to ask: What’s in a name? And that examination may further propel us to ask another: Should the Boys Division be renamed? 

 SBP has always been innovative and nimble, its administrative and student leaders changing the way the school is run to fit what is needed. The school restored the name “St. Benedict’s” in 1973, due to feedback from parents and students. The school created a Girls Division when a group of students advocated for its creation after the closing of Benedictine Academy. Heck, when Convo goes overtime, student leaders reconfigure the daily schedule on a moment’s notice.

We always adjust. Even during times of great uncertainty, such as the present when we are faced with a terrifying global pandemic, we have not shut down. We’ve simply gone virtual.  

St. Benedict’s has always been a pioneer. We lead, we don’t follow. If the name doesn’t fit, we should drop it. Since we first stepped on the property as freshmen, we have been referred to as Benedict’s Men. So let’s be consistent. Let’s rename ourselves as the Men’s Division.