The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

TMI: too much intimacy

By Derek Schlom

Georgia ’11 * and her boyfriend feel no shame engaging in public displays of affection at school (“Why would we do it if it were embarrassing?” Georgia said). But President Thomas C. Hudnut apparently finds the behavior inappropriate.

The duo, who has been dating for five months, was recently sitting at a table together eating lunch, hugging and occasionally kissing when Georgia “felt someone sit down next to me and clear their throat,” she said.

It was Hudnut, who gave the pair a “disapproving glare.”

“There was trash all over the table and he said, ‘Clean up this table and then clean up your act,’” Georgia said.

The couple stuck to hand-holding for the rest of the period.

Georgia and her boyfriend, who have been affectionate since “the first day” of their now-five-month relationship, feel no shame engaging in PDA at school, but Hudnut’s negative reaction to their demonstration is not uncommon among teachers, staff and peers, according to other affectionate couples.

“If it’s an intimate moment, I don’t understand why it needs to be public,” Dean Sharon Cuseo said.

Cuseo admitted that the administration’s stance on PDA is that the standard of appropriate conduct is “very subjective.”

“There are no rules except that you aren’t supposed to do things that make people uncomfortable. It’s sort of like the dress code,” she said.

Still, Cuseo said that she personally finds some acts to be unequivocally inappropriate.

“I think there definitely is a line that I have yet to see someone cross. Horizontal is really my issue,” she said. “I have yet to see something vertical that I’ve been uncomfortable with.”

Cuseo doesn’t feel the need to interfere with PDA “because I find that to be one of the most awkward things. I’m much more comfortable telling someone to cover up.

“I did mention it when we used to have couches in the lounge. I did tell a couple to get off of the couch.”

Diana’09* hasn’t been reprimanded for PDA, but said that she faces resistance from friends and classmates when even hugging her boyfriend.

“We don’t grope each other like other couples, but people get annoyed by any sort of touching,” she said. “If we are holding hands in a group of people, everyone will walk ahead of us and get annoyed.”

Cindy Ok ’10 is among those peeved by PDA. “I’ve always felt that the school, including the library, the quad, and the hallway, serves as a learning environment first and foremost,” she said. “There is a fine line between public displays of affection and public displays of lust, and that line is sometimes crossed.”

Denise ’09* considers the public affection she displays with her boyfriend a natural expression of her feelings, and claims that her friends don’t mind, but she keeps the kissing to a minimum.

“I hug him when I see him, and I generally like to hug the people that I love,” Denise said. “We don’t really make out. But it was a long time before I was comfortable kissing or holding hands or anything at all in public.”

Robin ’09 * hasn’t reached that comfort level, and avoids kissing his girlfriend at school “because when we do, there’s definitely some embarrassment. Most of the time we’re too embarrassed to not refrain from it.”

*These names have been changed because subjects wish to remain anonymous

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TMI: too much intimacy