The infamous headline “Belmont Hill Breaks up with Winsor over Text” was positioned prominently on the front page of last year’s Flannel. The line drew laughs, but at the same time it exposed the widening rift between Belmont Hill and our sister school, Winsor.
On paper, on admissions catalogues, and to parents, our relationship couldn’t seem more harmonious. We do everything together. We act together. We share a boathouse. We hold prom together. And we even share a school paper. But below the surface lies Belmont Hill’s worst secret: the student bodies of Belmont Hill and Winsor are growing increasingly apart.
At first glance, the difference seems to be purely political. Belmont Hill conservatives (and even some liberals) often lament about Winsor’s leftward-leaning views. You only need to pick up a dual Belmont Hill-Winsor issue of the Panel to see the generally partisan divide between opinion sections.
In the Panel’s election poll, a third of Belmont Hill respondents considered themselves Democrats. On the other hand, 56.6% of Winsor considered themselves Democrats, showing a much more stronger liberal base. With such contrasting results, coupled with a toxic and divisive political atmosphere on the national scale, a rift between Winsor and Belmont Hill doesn’t seem too far off.
The rift is highlighted by conflicting views on an age-old issue. As captured in a December editorial by Bennett Rush, I’ve seen Belmont Hill boys roll their eyes at the dreaded F-word, “feminism,” a movement Winsor wholeheartedly endorses. Belmont Hill boys see the Winsor brand of feminism – or in some cases feminism in general – as militant and extreme. At the same time, Winsor looks down at Belmont Hill as sexist and out of touch with the actual definition of feminism, the equality between men and women. Looking towards mending our relationship, the least Belmont Hill can do is get the definition right.
But this general dislike runs deeper than politics and feminism. I’ve heard grumbles at Panel meetings about Winsor’s censor-happy administration. I’ve seen utter repulsion between some members of the Belmont Hill and Winsor Crew teams. The dislike was so strong that some Belmont Hill rowers covertly rooted against their boathouse counterparts.
How do I know all this? Perhaps I’ve just had an incredibly observant two years at Belmont Hill. But it’s probably because I’ve been a part in opening this rift. I’ve bashed Winsor my fair share. To be honest, I’m sick of it. I’ve seen the damage it can do within a boathouse and I don’t want to see that happen at a school-wide level. And although this Winsor bashing sect is surely not everyone, it’s still a large group within Belmont Hill.
So what do we do? I’m not asking anyone to change their politics and become a bleeding-heart liberal. I simply ask that you try to humanize Winsor. Too often do we lump our sister school into an image corrupted by stereotypes. The visceral dislike of the idea of Winsor is transferred onto the actual student body. The only way to combat such a divide is to build bridges. As a student body, we need to commit to getting to know our counterparts on Pilgrim Road. They’re actually not that bad. Go to Jamnesty, their plays, and their sports games. Then reach out and invite them to our events; the Loop could always use extra voices to cheer for our teams. We need to bring together Belmont Hill and Winsor from the bottom up.
And if we aren’t willing to offer the hand of friendship to our sister school, we might as well not have one.