By Julian Brenman ‘20, Editor-In-Chief 10-30-18
From donuts at club meetings to candy bowls in offices to baked goods distributed in homerooms, it’s virtually impossible to survive a day at Friends’ Central without being offered at least a couple of confections. While I have no doubt that everybody who hands out such treats has nothing but the sweetest of intentions, the constant distribution of junk food on our campus has created a “sweet culture” which is dangerously unhealthy for students and teachers alike. Casually munching on “food” known to be toxic for our bodies on a daily basis promotes terrible eating habits and doesn’t do anybody any long-term flavors, sorry, favors. Sure, candy and baked goods should be allowed on Valentine’s Day and Halloween, but beyond that, this trend needs to stop. In recent years, school administrators have taken steps--from revamping the athletics program to widening food options in the dining hall--to try to improve overall student wellness. The obvious next step is to abolish the scattered candy bowls, have club leaders stop bringing in sweets to swoon new members, and tell peer mentors to celebrate homeroom birthdays in a way that doesn’t involve chocolate.
Lindsey Schweitzer ‘20 couldn’t disagree with me more. She shares her thoughts on the FCS “sweet culture”: “I think ‘sweet culture’ makes Friends’ Central a better place. When people are eating candy and donuts, they’re happy.” Blayre Walters ‘21 adds, “I don’t think there’s a problem with having sweets on campus. Personally, I get especially happy when I see [Hershey] kisses. [‘Sweet Culture’] just brightens the overall mood of the day.” Mr. Dankoff, known to be the sweetest chap on campus, adds to the conversation: “I like the sweets. I’d actually like to have more sweets. I especially like homemade things. Students should always feel free to bring those to me.” However, Mr. Dankoff eventually admits, “I guess [‘sweet culture’] is unhealthy but I don’t think it should be regulated by the institution. There are some things that we need to monitor and this isn’t one of them. I do think that having cookies, brownies, scones, crepes, I could go on, is lovely.”
Prior to joining the Friends’ Central Community, Marielle Buxbaum ‘20 attended the French International School. She claims that “sweet culture” is unique to FCS and that such a phenomenon wouldn’t have been allowed at her previous place of study. Reflecting on her experiences with “sweet culture” at FCS, she explains, “I have a complex relationship with ‘sweet culture.’ I love it but I know it’s so bad for me. Health class in tenth grade reminded me that [excess] sugar is really bad for me and I need to eat it less...but then it’s always being offered to me and it’s hard to say ‘no.’ I don’t think we should take the sweets away so it’s not an option, but we shouldn’t make it the only option.” Being asked to comment on the topic of “sweet culture” actually prompts Marielle to reflect on how she, as a leader of the Gender and Sexual Orientation Alliance, contributes to “sweet culture.” She contemplates, “We often have things like donuts and stuff like that at the club, and for the first time just now, I was thinking that maybe it would be better to have fruits or veggies as an alternative. It would be more inclusive for people who are trying not to eat sweet stuff, because maybe they’re trying to lose weight, or just be more healthy in general. Just having sweets may make some people feel socially excluded, and lead them to think, ‘I don’t want to go to GSoA because I can’t or don’t want to eat the food.’”
All of this is food for thought. Our school should also push its students and teachers to a lifestyle where carrots are more common than Starbursts and where people attend club meetings for the sake of participating in the club, not for the sake of a some chocolate. That’s just my opinion, I guess. Just remember, though, that the best thing somebody can do if he or she is trying to get healthier is to rid his or her home of any delicious temptations.