Matthew Tavarez ’22
Picture this: a five-year-old faculty child is carrying a plate in the dining hall when they suddenly lose their footing. They drop the plate. Food spills all over the floor; they lurch forward onto the tile. This child starts to become upset that they just made a mess and did something wrong, which, in his eyes, is a huge deal. As he gets up, still processing what just occurred, the dining hall filled with teens erupts in cheers, all of the attention on the child. This would probably overwhelm the child to the point that they want to express feelings with extreme gravity.
Clapping after someone drops a plate in the dining hall is idiotic and not worth the possible shame and embarrassment someone may feel afterward. The intention is irrelevant; if someone is getting hurt, it should not be happening.
There are also scenarios involving students and faculty members who would not want to be clapped for, whether for not to be in the limelight or for other reasons. For example, a new student who is still finding their crowd at Mercersburg dropping a plate may feel ostracized for being new blood on campus. They will have no one to go to since they have not had the opportunity to get closer to anyone and now will have a psychological inhibitor to talk to people because of that moment.
Some will say that clapping after a dropped plate is the community showing support to that person. Though this may be the case, we must honestly think about all the people affected, pulling the scope of our people whom this will affect. Imagine if a kitchen staff member, board of regents member, or prospective student were to drop a plate; that member would not understand the connotation of the clapping. This would then cause this community outsider to assume the worst and feel embarrassed to be associated with Mercersburg again. This is all without mentioning; not all students will clap with good intentions, as some would clap to ridicule the person.
Clapping is nothing special to Mercersburg and should not be. Even if you were to say it is a tradition, not all traditions are good. It is also not unique to Mercersburg. Clapping has no benefits that are justifiable compared to the negativity and shame someone could and would feel. It is unnecessary and is a “tradition” that will never do more good than harm.