Wall of rejection and deferral removed


Rejection letter for current WHS senior

Annie Kosowsky, Staff Writer

 “The Wall of Rejection and Deferral,” previously called the “Wall of Shame,” has been a long-standing tradition for seniors at WHS. Students were encouraged to print out pictures of their college rejections and deferrals and tape them up in the cafeteria for everyone to see. This year, the wall was removed and there is no plan to revise this situation. After researching the impact of this wall, I believe it does not represent the tight-knit, inclusive community that our school should be striving to achieve. Despite the opinions of many of my senior peers, I do not believe that the wall should return. 

   Previously, the wall has been seen as a way to take back some confidence in the college admissions process, an experience that often is very difficult for students. While this tradition has been considered a uniting experience, it has major repercussions that are not all positive.

   There has been a lot of discussion within the senior class about the true meaning behind why the wall was taken down this year. Many students assumed that the administration was at the forefront of this decision when in fact, Principal Paul Peri was not involved in the removal. 

   In reality, the custodial staff removed the posted documents because there is a sealant on the windows that can be damaged by tape. The wall could theoretically go up at any point as long as it is not taped directly onto the windows; however, I do not believe that should occur. 

   Peri also questions the wall’s overall impact. “I can really see both sides of an argument: it’s organic but we have to ask ourselves, is it inclusive of all?” Peri said.

   I do not feel that the wall is inclusive. For starters, the college process is notorious for being discriminatory to those less fortunate. The price for these institutions is far from attainable for the majority of the country. Just applying to each college can cost anywhere from $50 to $80 per application. 

   These costs mean that the affluent can afford to apply to more colleges, making it more likely that they will receive rejections from “reach” schools, but for those with less affluence who have to carefully choose each school to ensure no funds are wasted, rejections represent a much bigger loss. This makes this wall untenable and therefore, unreasonable. 

   As an anonymous source from a post on the @PoCatWeston Instagram account stated “The ‘Wall of Rejection’ was rooted in racism and white privilege. Do you know how privileged you have to be to laugh off a rejection letter to a school you paid to apply to?”

   Many students at Weston are fortunate enough to apply to multiple colleges and pay their fees without an issue. That, absolutely, is not the case for all students at WHS. Even attending college sometimes is not an option. For students not going to college, the Wall completely isolates their choices beyond high school. 

   Another issue with the wall is the concept of “safety schools.” This idea is privileged and anxiety-provoking to many.  Overhearing students cracking jokes about a school that they just applied to “for fun” when you don’t think you can even get into that school can feel like a personal attack on your academic achievements.

  The same anonymous source on @PoCatWeston also wrote “During my senior year, I remember kids laughing at the fact that they got rejected from their ‘back-up schools,’ such as state schools.” The anonymous former WHS student continues by saying “They never take into consideration [that] for many, state schools are the key to an education because they are affordable.”

   There is clearly an argument that the wall has the ability to bring the senior class community together. The majority of the students and teachers I talked to agreed that there were positive aspects of this tradition. 

   “The wall allows seniors to take back some of the power in the stressful college process” history department head, Susan Bairstow, said. 

   Bairstow has a point. This process has a lot of uncertainty and rejections can cause students to feel down about their abilities. Being rejected, regardless of the school, is very hard to handle. Seeing that other students are going through the same thing does make you feel more comfortable with the process. However, the seniors are not entirely unified on this issue, as some in the grade have recognized the disadvantages of the wall.

  “Before considering putting the wall back up, we as a grade should reflect on the significance it has on everyone in the grade,” said senior Raneem Abuhasan.

   I agree with Raneem and after my own careful consideration, the cons outweigh the pros. Feeling a little less alone does not subtract from the fact that this tradition visibly sets apart members of the student body. 

   So where do we go from here? 

   The wall has already lost a lot of its popularity as COVID-19 has changed various of aspects of our high school.  There are clear flaws in the college process that need to be addressed, but as a community, we can do our part to rise above the discrimination and retire the tradition.

   Instead, Principal Peri has collaborated with other DCL principals and come up with some options that allow the senior class to engage with each other and relieve some stress without making some students feel left out. 

   Other schools in the area have what’s called a “Shredding Day.” The school places a large paper shredder in the cafeteria and throughout the day, seniors have the option to shred their rejection or deferral letters. The benefit of this tradition is no one is displaying how many letters they received, or to which colleges they did not get in. In my opinion, this would allow for a fun release of stress while keeping the controversial information to yourself.