The incident became an oft-addressed analogy for various themes in English class, a cloud of administrative emails, a web of Internet exposés, and perhaps the most talked-around subject among prospective parents. As a Violet Key member, I was faced with one nervous mother who wondered out loud whether or not I felt there were faculty members on campus I could approach, should I ever need to “tell someone something.” I answered honestly, assuring her that yes, there were many teachers with whom I had formed very appropriate, respectful and trusting relationships, who I would certainly feel comfortable seeking out in times of trouble. She nodded, clearly dissatisfied with the lack of drama to my response.
I think the most interesting, and perhaps ridiculous, development in recent months has been the evolution of media coverage surrounding Joseph Koetters’s time at Marlborough and the events that followed. It has been weird enough to witness the direct results of the allegations, the investigation, the evidence, et cetera, et cetera, but in addition to our own experience of these happenings, we had the very surreal opportunity to observe them again through our phones, our television screens and even our fashion magazines. Watching the media devour, warp and spread our school’s upheaval across the nation has given us a unique chance to see where the news, an often undisputed source of information, meddles with the truth to create a story worth selling. We can notice their tactics of antagonization; plastering a particularly unflattering image of the villainous Koetters next to what appears to be a student’s prom picture helps to paint the picture of the kind of crime the public thirsts for: black and white… and read all over.
The story that remains untold, and the one that is most important now, is the one of the school after the scandal. Not a Gossip Girl episode, not a scintillating bit of private school fiction, but a fully functioning institution full of girls who would rather not see two news trucks and a drone on campus between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Marlborough is, after all, a school, and if anything, the scandal’s greatest significance is its disturbance of that safe, academic environment. The subsequent intrusion on our daily lives on campus, whether through live news crews or live tweets, only adds to the distraction. Don’t get me wrong: I believe Koetters is a criminal, and the things he did deserve public, severe consequences. The part I take issue with is simply the degree to which these events have come to define this year’s “Marlborough experience” in the eyes of the outside world. My classmates and I are approaching our final days on campus and can now look back on our six years with appreciation for all that the School has given us. My greatest concern, the thing I love most and want to cherish long after I leave in May, is the sense of community that Marlborough has provided. If anything, the strength and solidarity among students this year, regardless of our varying opinions about the events that transpired, makes me even more proud to be a Violet and more confident in the student body’s ability to keep our collective cool, no matter what crazy obstacle the world throws our way.