The Pelican Games: Restricting Student Autonomy?

Anna Lee Geoghan '24, Contributor

Loomis Chaffee needs to understand that not every student wants to be a Pelican Games hero, swooping in to clinch first place for their team.
When the inaugural games arrived on campus, they arrived with a splash: bright lights, bouncing music, exciting competition, and plenty of student participation created a tangible spirit of camaraderie and joy.
However, as the Pelican Games have progressed, the special appeal unique to the first Pelican Games have since faded. The music is still loud and the lights are still bright, but the games have become repetitive, leading to a loss in student interest. My friends and I have begun to seek alternate places to spend a Friday or Saturday night, but here’s one issue: many of the places reserved for student leisure, such as the “third floor” of the Scanlan Campus Center and Olcott Gym, are closed by administration while the Pelican Games are in progress.
In Loomis’s boarding school environment, it can feel like students lack autonomy in their personal lives. The different places we can go and activities we can partake in are limited and are primarily decided by the institution.
Loomis’ choice to close places that students utilize to relax in an attempt to cultivate higher participation rates for the Pelican Games is a blatant attempt to further restrict student independence in an already heavily restricted environment.
Although the Pelican Games are a fun way to spend a Saturday, they shouldn’t be the only way to spend it. Sometimes students don’t want to deal with the competition and excitement of the Pelican Games. People might just want to have a quiet Saturday night with friends, relishing the later check-in and the absence of class the next morning.
While the Pelican Games are definitely a great way to boost student morale after a year full of restrictions, it should never come at the expense of student freedom. We might live at school, but that does not mean that our school should be able to dictate where we can be for the express purpose of increasing student participation in a school sanctioned event.
There are plenty of students at LC who absolutely love the Pelican Games. They love to put on face paint, get decked out in their team color, and spend as much time as they possibly can out on the turf—playing capture the flag, or participating in quiz game style competitions.
However, it’s important to realize that not every student wants to attend the Pelican Games. By keeping places of leisure on campus closed, Loomis is further restricting the autonomy of the student body and is ensuring that a chunk of students won’t enjoy their night to the fullest.