Renaming The Divisions: Update


Photo by Tim Mossholder for Unsplash

Isabel Garcia and Ethan Brady

It looks like a name change for the Boys and Girls divisions at St. Benedict’s Prep is not in the cards. At least not yet.

During this past summer phase, two students, Yohangil Nolasco UDII and William Register UDI,  each wrote pieces sharing why they believed their respective divisions should be renamed as the ‘Men’s and Women’s divisions.

For the Girl’s Division Nolasco wrote about what she felt was the inaccuracy of being referred to as a girl, writing  “Finally, I would have the opportunity to be referred to as what I really am,” and “I  propose that we rename the Girls Division as Benedict’s ‘Women’s Division.’”

Similarly, for the Boy’s Division, Register wrote about what he saw as the hypocrisy between Benedict’s students daily expectations and being referred to as a boy, writing,  “Since we first stepped on the property as freshmen, we have been referred to as Benedict’s Men,” and “So let’s be consistent. Let’s rename ourselves as the Men’s Division.” 

Sunil Das, the Senior Group Leader of the Boys Division, thinks that the idea behind renaming the divisions has merit but, ultimately, disagrees with the present suggestion. “I think naming us ‘men’ and ‘women’ kind of gives us a sense of reputation and it also forces us to act like men and women and really be what we want to be or say that we are,” Das said. “But, at the same time, we’re still teenagers and saying that we’re men and women also takes away from the fact that we haven’t reached that level of maturity.”

Agnes Aghanwa, Senior Group Leader of the Girls Division, has also expressed her view on the idea. “I don’t know if it would be the best decision to rename the Girls’ Division to the Women’s Division,” said Ahanwa said. “When I think of Benedict’s ‘Women,’ I think of women that have already graduated from Benedict’s.”

The reason that maturity level is a point of discussion is that St. Benedict’s is a school known for emphasizing mature behavior by its students. Every year, St. Benedict’s plays a role in the formation of its students to become mature adults by practicing traditions such as the “Overnight” and The Trail. Lead counselors known as “sempectae,” counselors, and faculty who participate in the “Overnight” teach freshmen at St. Benedict’s traditions, songs, and discipline. The Trail teaches freshmen how to survive and trust one’s brothers.

 Dr. Glenn Cassidy, Associate Headmaster for Leadership and Community Development, points out that “St. Benedict’s has become well-known for the rites of passage that students must complete to earn their next title, uniform, and overall standing in the school. It is for this reason that we require students to complete the overnight, earn their colors, complete the trail, get drafted into groups, and more.” 

However, Dr. Cassidy does not agree with the student editorialists’ suggestion for a name change. He believes that students need to first undergo the character-shaping activities offered by Benedict’s before being rewarded by being referred to as “men” and “women.”

The motto “I aspire to be a Benedict’s man” and “I aspire to be a Benedict’s woman” gives students a better understanding of what they are learning to be and what they are becoming, Dr. Cassidy noted. It is not until students graduate from St. Benedict’s, he said, that they finally get to say that they are Benedict’s men and women.

 “Graduation from the school is one of those rites of passage and with it comes the title Benedict’s Men and Women,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Changing our division names to Men’s and Women’s minimizes the need to earn this title.”

Mr. Didier Jean-Baptiste, Dean of College Guidance,  recognizes the meaning of these titles for Benedict’s students, as he actively works with the seniors on their journey that will take them beyond Benedict’s and into adulthood. “My ageist side keeps wanting to add the word ‘Young’ in front of ‘Women’s and ‘Men’s,’ perhaps to make a distinction between students and teachers,” said Mr. Jean-Baptiste. “You are men and women in formation, just as we older men and women (teachers) remain imperfect men and women who are also continuing to evolve.” Ultimately, he said, he agreed with the sentiments of Nolasco and Register.