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Language Matters Policy Goes into Effect at Fall Dances

October 24, 2018

The “Language Matters” Regulation

A music regulation policy was added to the Student/Parent Handbook this year. Commonly referred to as the “Language Matters” policy, it states:

“Language matters; words of all kinds matter. All those in the community must refrain from using any language that is disrespectful, hateful, or vulgar. Any music that is played on campus must be completely respectful and not contain any references to illegal or immoral behavior. There is no place at school for a musical piece that has been edited or redacted, as those who know the original version often fall into the original version. Any person who violates these standards will be disciplined” (Handbook p.33-34, Planner p.34).

Is this a new regulation?

This is the first year that the “language matters” policy has been included within the Student/Parent Handbook.

In an interview via email, Dean of Students Mary Ella Marion said that the Language Matters policy is “not a new regulation/policy in regards to music at dances. There has always been an approval of the songs which is given to the DJ before the dance.”

When asked where this policy could be found in previous versions of the handbook, Ms. Marion responded that “as we have found in revising the handbook, there were policies that have been in place (approving of music at dances and field day) for many years.  What we have done this year is to include these policies/procedures…to make the handbook more comprehensive for students, families, faculty and staff.”

Does the policy change the way music for dances is planned?

Ms. Marion said that the policy is “not a new regulation,” and that for future dances, “there will continue to be a strong focus on appropriate music on campus.”

Mr. Ian Davis, the moderator for Student Council, said that the policy is changing the planning process for music. He thinks that the policy has made it so that “it is more stringent—far more careful—about what gets accepted as to what songs can be played and what does not.”

What is the DJ told before events?

Ms. Marion explained that she oversees music for on-campus dances and prom. She also oversees “the selection of music with the moderator of the dance or one of the year level coordinators.”

Ms. Marion said that, as part of planning her planning role, DJs for dances are sent a list of approved songs prior to the event. The lists are generated by Mercy students and are shown to the year level coordinator or moderator before being brought to Ms. Marion.

Mr. Davis said that, for Student Council events, they provide the DJs with “an approved song list and special instructions not to deviate from that approved song list.”

How much are students involved in the planning process?

As a part of collaborating with students to create these lists, Ms. Marion said that “we have spoken with students who attend Activities Council about approval of music at dances.  We have had this conversation for over a year.  I understand how important the music is to a dance.  At last year’s Pin Dance and last Friday’s Homecoming Dance, it looked like the girls were dancing and having a good time!”

Mr. Davis said that students would be able to influence what music is played at dances, but that “it depends on students and how much time they want to put into it because it needs to be approved by leadership within the school.”

What happens if the DJ does not follow the policy?

When asked if there was a procedure for when a DJ does not abide by that agreement, Ms. Marion said that “the DJ will not be asked back to work a Mercy dance or event.”

Mr. Davis said that, as he understands the policy from Ms. Marion, while he has never had to enact the process, “the DJ would be told to stop playing that song and would be reminded to adhere to the playlist,” and that “DJs that don’t adhere to that are not invited back.”

Was Ring Dance representative of what to expect from the new regulation?

A number of songs at Ring Dance this year directly violated the new “Language Matters” policy, particularly the prohibition of “vulgar” language and the ban on “redacted” songs.

Ms. Marion said, “I personally was not happy with the amount of singing that the DJ did at Ring Dance. Also, we only need 1 DJ and I am not sure why 2 other DJs were working this dance for a total of 3 DJs.”

Was Homecoming representative of what to expect from the new regulation?

Mr. Davis said that the song list provided to the DJ by Student Council was adhered to at Homecoming.

He said that he “would hope” that Homecoming would be a good example of what Student Council dances will be like in the future. He noted that “the DJ used at Homecoming has been used at Prom for numerous years. His daughter is an alum, and they have always been respectful of Mercy’s mission and the requirements that we have of decorum and courtesy by following our requests at dances.”

How does not adhering to the policy impact the Mercy community as a whole?

Mr. Davis said that diverging from the policy “harms us as a school community. It harms our mission statement and the representation that we are putting forth as a community as a whole. Having things that don’t adhere to the policy that are played at dances harms us—it doesn’t necessarily harm the DJ.”

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