Opinion: Let’s have more class than crass

Veronica Winham, Staff Writer

A typical day for me at school consists of going to assembly, attending classes, and then heading to lunch. It is rare when I don’t hear swearing during all of these activities. When I’m sitting with my advisement, I hear people swearing. When I’m at my locker I hear people yell bad words through the hallways. I even experience cussing when I’m in line at the Dining Hall. These words are, to say the least, definitely colorful as well as offensive and inappropriate in a school setting.

Swearing is defined as “the use of offensive language” and includes profanity, cussing, and cursing. This means that all of the bad words, inappropriate phrases, and rude gestures one often hears or sees are all under this umbrella term.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are approximately 171,476 words currently use in the English language. However, of those 171,476, it seems as though my peers rely heavily on only four or five of them. Since there are so many words available in our language, it would seem easy for a person to find a more appropriate word in place of a bad word. Swearing is insulting to many, and when someone says a bad word, they might not realize who it could affect nearby or who is around to hear it.

At Seabury Hall, I notice this problem of swearing—yes, it is a problem—on a daily basis. This is alarming and just plain inappropriate behavior for students at a college prep school. Because swearing is a problem and now a habit, it needs to be addressed. If even a few people change some words in their vocabulary when they are frustrated, upset, or even joking around with their friend and throwing these words around, it would make the community feel a lot more comfortable and make the person seem more mature and educated.

Swearing appears in the Seabury Hall Parent-Student Handbook, a guideline for all school rules, as a punishable offense under the section on Unacceptable Behavior: “subject to disciplinary consequences: foul, obscene or offensive language.” Yet due to its lack of follow up (aka consequences), this problem gets worse and worse with each passing day.

I hear cuss words and strong derogatory language, even though sometimes used to “playfully” tease someone, more frequently at school than I have in previous years. Friends that engage in this behavior and are not told otherwise have the potential to use a word that could really harm someone’s feelings, even if that was not the intent.
The ability that words have to tear down someone’s confidence are greater than most people realize. These negative words, even if not meant in a negative way, can be misinterpreted or really offend someone. It is better to just avoid this behavior altogether instead of saying something you may regret later and cannot take back.

When colorful or impolite language is used every other word multiple times in a sentence, the swear also loses its power and punch. The point of swear words are to convey strong emotions, not to be thrown around and lose their meaning. The intent of these words and the special extreme cases of when to use them have been overused and abused.

Students have become more comfortable swearing, as it has evolved into a bad habit, when really they need to be able to censor themselves in professional settings. Their swearing can also be a misguided reflection on the school itself when an outside guest is on campus and hears it. Seabury Hall is a college prep school, and if the student is unable to shift languages for, say, an interview, then they might have a lower chance of getting into a university they want because of their language habits, even if they didn’t realize that they said a bad word since they are not used to having a filter. Swearing is not professional and not impressive.

Some people are probably at the point where people who cuss surround them so often they don’t even realize the situation they are in. People who are surrounded by family members of friends who swear are more likely to pick it up. This develops habits and so the school rules are in place to prevent people from doing this so that later at events or during an interview an incident won’t occur. I think that since the rules are laid out in the Handbook they should be met with detentions if the same person is caught swearing repeatedly.

The amount of swearing that goes on in our school hallways needs to be regulated. Punishments need to be enforced. School should cease to be a place for such profanity. Seabury is not somewhere where bathroom talk should be encouraged or continued. The type of people who are swearers or associate themselves with swearers can use their weekends or time away from the classroom and education setting to use their first amendment more freely. At school, however, it is unsuitable and impolite.

This issue has gotten out of control and the number of times I hear a swear in class or when walking down the hallway is honestly cringe worthy. There are many other choices to phrase the sentence with more respectful language, and I hope that anyone who reads this watches their tongue a little more closely. You never know who you could affront or sound less-than-classy in front of. Whether you recognize yourself as someone who swears often or not, just be mindful of the language you use and how you use it, especially in school.