Dean Macrina gets real about bullying at Xavier

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Dean Macrina gets real about bullying at Xavier

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Tatum Dial, Opinions Editor

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Bullying is a term that people have trouble defining in today’s society. In movies, it has become typical to always see a bigger and more intimidating bully shoving a weaker individual into a locker or throwing their books on the floor. But could bullying be something less obvious? On Nov. 5, Dean Macrina appeared on the announcements during homeroom to address kindness at Xavier. Dean Macrina explained that she is grateful that bullying does not occur at Xavier, as it does at other schools. As a result, I was curious to hear what Dean Macrina’s definition of bullying was to help better distinguish between what is and what is not bullying. I also wondered what she thought about the “friend group” concept at Xavier and whether it encourages unkind actions.

 

What is your definition of bullying?

“Bullying is a standard definition. It’s any three people, or more, against one person repeatedly. The other part to it is threatening. It has to be physically and verbally threatening. But it has to be a threaten of life. It can’t just be, “I think your hair is ugly.” It’s a true threat. Repeatedly is the major word.”

Do you believe that bullying happens at Xavier?

“Not at all. Not according to the true definition. Do I think we have mean girls? Yes. Do I think we have girl drama? Oh yes. But to actually say we have the threats- social media allows for  slanderous comments; however, do we have the three, four, five against one where that one actually feels threatened? No. No.”

Do you think friend groups are good or bad?

“We are always gonna have friend groups because that’s our world. You have a group, a nucleus of your true friends you can fall back on and you know, be with and share things with. It’s when the friend group suddenly changes that it becomes mean. If they ostracize someone or someone doesn’t live up to the groups expectations, whatever their expectations are, that’s when it becomes harmful to the other person in a way that it’s hurtful. No one has the right to say anything hurtful to someone else.”

When the Ben’s Bells speaker came for the X-Breakfast event, she told us intentional kindness is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Do you believe this is true?

“I definitely think its a characteristic of us that we learn. I can’t teach it to you. You can learn through others. I think that’s the basis of kindness. You watch other peoples’ actions. You find it in your own heart to say something or to do something to make someone else feel good about themselves. It’s the strangest thing because, when kindness happens, you as the person don’t even know it. It can be something as simple as giving someone compliment. “I like your hair today.” It could have been the worst day of her life in the morning and you just gave her a compliment. That’s kindness. Just being you and finding that kindness truly does come from your heart. It’s not something I can teach.”

 

My Thoughts:

Perhaps the definition of bullying is outdated and should be revised. Many of us have witnessed the harm that can be done when someone treats another unkindly even though it is not necessarily life threatening. For example, kicking a girl out of a friend group or talking about someone behind their back can create trauma for the victim. I have observed firsthand a student try and sit with a new group of friends because she did not have anyone else to turn to. Eventually, one member of the friend group texted the brave girl who sat down that day with them and said that she did not fit in and should not come back. These alienated girls can feel so alone that they sit in the library at lunch and dread going to school because they don’t have the comfort of friends they can count on. Although these hurtful actions do not fit into Dean Macrina’s definition of bullying, they can be detrimental to girls who are trying to find a supportive group of people at Xavier.  The girls who have endured these traumatic experiences need the support of all faculty, staff, and students. They should feel that their situation is just as serious even though it is not an exact representation of Dean Macrina’s definition of bullying.

As the Ben’s Bells founder Jennette Maré taught us to combat bullying, intentional kindness is a skill that can be taught and practiced everyday. She came to speak at the X-Breakfast to teach the Xavier community how to practice intentional kindness. The reason Xavier became a Kind Campus was not just to say we are one, but to learn and inspire new ways to spread kindness throughout the community. This must be a commitment by the entire community, including faculty, staff, and students.

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