Loomis Seeks Positivity in Profanity

Justin Wu '22, Opinions Editor

Swearing is not the perceived notion of barbarous, uneducated rhetoric, but rather, a tool in fostering the same culture of positivity and collaboration that the Loomis Chaffee School strives to achieve.
Of course, Gordon Ramsay-esque profanity, when directed at an individual or group, is intolerable on any grounds, as Loomis rules clearly state. However, one often swears to describe their quality of life or to vent emotions that are largely harmless. The latter defines the majority of swearing that occurs at Loomis, which I believe is far more constructive to student life than we deem it.
First, experts say that using curse words can help us “build emotional resilience and cope with situations in which we feel that we have no control,” and this proviso certainly applies to the often stressful academic career of a Loomis student (Healthline).
In an environment where students are pushed to the brink of mental breakdown with towering assignments and uncountable college deadlines, where the two hundred students on our high-honor roll render imperfection abominable, students must resort to the occasional “f-word” as a coping mechanism for their anxiety.
According to counseling psychologist and founder of Therapy Central Dr. Raffaello Antonino, these exclamations are integral to maintaining a student’s mental composure.
“Swearing can have a truly liberating effect when we’re feeling bottled up with frustration. Saying the f-word, or similar, can have an immediate calming impact on the difficult emotions we might be experiencing (Healthline).”
This sentiment is shared by students on the Island.
“Schoolwork, in addition to the academic standards that I set for myself, has caused a lot of stress for me recently. Occasionally, profanity is an outlet for me to express these feelings and take a moment to reset,” Edward Park ’23 said.
Furthermore, swearing even generates a collaborative effect. When you and a fellow dormmate are busy ranting about the 40 pages of historical reading that were assigned for one night, you’re “not only emphasizing your frustration but building comradery” (Filevine). In doing so, by empowering students to empathize with their companions and collectively work toward a common goal, swearing is evidenced to increase work productivity.
In the workplace, an analysis from Gong (the #1 revenue intelligence platform for business-to-business sales teams) on over 73,000 of its sales calls indicates that swearing translates into 18% more wins when both sides do it (Fast Company).
When applied to campus life, swearing has the potential to reshape students’ working hours to somewhat resemble the LC policy that allotts “45 [to] 75 minutes” of nightly class homework (Loomis Chaffee Student Bill of Rights).
Currently, Loomis’ policies on swearing are ambiguous at best—excluding a specific section on profanity in its student handbook, thus deeming it “conduct that is incompatible with the spirit of the Loomis rules” (Loomis Chaffee Student Handbook).
This allows subjective interpretations of “spirit” and “Loomis rules” to determine how swearing is regulated on campus, where a certain faculty member may reprimand students to varying degrees based on their personal tolerance for profanity.
This propagates a cycle where students find themselves arbitrarily punished after unknowingly breaking campus rules without harming nor affecting anyone on campus; and due to the fact that these guidelines are never clarified, it wouldn’t be surprising to find them in similar circumstances down the line.
As such, if we are to ensure that students refrain from breaking campus policies, Loomis must establish a hard line on what can or cannot be linguistically accepted in our community. Despite the possibility for increased crackdowns around the use of profanity on campus, students will, at the very least, be able to follow a concrete set of rules.
Yet, it is imperative that these standards cultivate an environment where students can comfortably express their feelings. It is only through the unfiltered, liberating feeling that swearing uniquely provides us, that we can truly relieve ourselves from the stresses of academic work. Loomis has always prided itself as a community of support and constructive learning, and it’s about f*cking time we fulfill that promise—even for swearing.