St. Mary’s College Board Responds Amid Hair Grooming Controversy

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The Board of Management of St. Mary’s College has responded amid a controversy over the institution’s hair grooming requirements.

Chairman Anthony Bousquet issued a statement Thursday on behalf of the board.

 The complete statement appears below:

“Step together…”

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These words are more than merely the opening salvo of our beloved school song. No; these first two words are a call to a team mentality and an equivalent call to reducing the vanity of thinking solely about “me”. Our Alma Mater, St. Mary’s College, offers us a lifelong feeling of togetherness, a firm foundation, a large team. Adults will no doubt agree that it is easier to think about “me” than think about a team or unity. For any team to survive it must have certain rules in place. Yes; and certain traditions which may not make any sense to the outside world are kept.

All great institutions have rules.

All great institutions are about an underlying team discipline. St. Mary’s is a great institution.            

Saint Mary’s is not merely a school. It is an iconic learning institution built on the shoulders of many great St. Lucians. The rules of the school did not destroy the creativity of our greats – Sir Derek won a Nobel prize in a discipline that calls for the ultimate in creativity and self-expression; and he followed the rules. The United States, from whom we now secure many of our cultural influences, is a country known for individuality and the preservation of rights. It is also a country with a myriad of social safety nets. Yet, to enter the best academies your hair must be cut; even in the US, the need for team is acknowledged and revered.

We in St. Lucia do not have the safety nets of the developed world. The youth, in fact everyone, on this small rock at 14 ° N must have a level of discipline which surpasses that of a developed country. The establishment of and adherence to rules help.

Inner discipline must be instilled in the youth, in our “Men in Training”. The boys at SMC are among the best we have academically. However, it is not about the more than 80% in CPEA, no; it is a deeper sense of the need for growth in the human virtues — prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice — these should help us move to self-mastery and joy. It calls for the boys to sometimes take the more difficult and disciplined path — it is a path of training.

That being said, we are not advocating that we should not examine our traditions; the renouncing of the “Calot” came about as a result of an introspection. Every institution must conduct regular introspections. St. Mary’s must therefore examine itself. The methodology for this introspection has many avenues. First there are the principal and teachers. There is an active Parent Teachers Association in place which acts as an interface between parents, teachers and the Board of Management. The school also has an active Students’ Council which brings forward the grievances of the student body and advocates for meaningful change. The Board of Management is readily accessible and attempts to also bring forward the interests of all our institution’s stakeholders.

It is in light of the availability of these numerous avenues that we, the Board of Management, are disappointed at the manner in which this most well-known grievance has been brought forward. Our young Samarians are trained in the manner in which grievances are brought forward. Therefore, first breaking a rule, then pushing the breaking of this rule in the public domain, prior to pursuing any of the aforementioned grievance avenues, is not in keeping with what our Samarians are trained to do.

This simply cannot be done in the world of work!

Do note with interest that St. Mary’s College’s rule book explicitly states the school’s regulations governing hair. Before a parent decides to register their son at St. Mary’s College, they are made aware of the regulations for students. By registering, they agree to follow those regulations.

All male students are accommodated at St. Mary’s College regardless of their socio-economic status, religion or race. In keeping with our ethos to accommodate and provide holistic support to our students, the school always employs flexible measures for students who have legitimate written excuses. All we ask is that parents and students respect and follow the rules of the school as they had agreed to upon entry into the school thus ensuring proper conduct and a conducive learning environment for all students. Our parents in question are fully aware of the said rules. The issue of grooming was raised with the young Samarian’s parents in the last academic year. The parents were advised of all interventions which may be needed relative to their son.

It is unfortunate that this dialogue was abandoned in favour of a more “public hearing”. This “public hearing” has been characterized by comments which are fraught with distortions and falsehoods.

The young Samarian was not denied entry to the class unless he cut his hair. No; the young Samarian can keep his hair but must just cover it for entry into class — like all other students with long hair. No; this rule is not directed exclusively at boys of a particular race. All boys, regardless of race, are required to cut their hair should it be above a recognizable height or cover their hair for entry into class — ALL BOYS. There have been many proposed solutions. One advocates that hair must simply “not be a distraction…” This is clearly subjective; any style can be distractive to any person.

Others call for hair to be groomed. This may be so but there will be a cry in the near future asking “why should hair be combed?”‘ “It is my hair and I clean it, I don’t wish to comb it! It is my right!” We could certainly think of other solutions.

St. Mary’s offers a path out of all of this, everyone, regardless of race, must cut their hair or cover for instruction. How can this rule be discriminatory against anyone — ALL ARE TREATED THE SAME. Further, recognize that SMC has taken any move to a fashion show out of the school — any boy can put on any desired fashion show on weekends under the auspices of his family.

The Board of Management calls on all parents and the general public, who our boys will eventually serve, to recognize what we are trying to do at SMC. Recognise that this “rock” needs boys who are at a higher level of discipline than those in the developed world. Our teachers believe this! Our teachers believe this to be important! The Board and most parents believe this! Our boys must learn this!

At this time, the board is focused on completing the strategic plan for the school and implementing its vision for 2021 and beyond. In this plan much introspection will be and has been undertaken. A natural part of this introspection is an examination of all rules.

Currently, the school is preparing students for the upcoming inter school sporting activities. We are making innovative strides in educating our boys as we are proud to announce the introduction of SAT classes into our form five curriculum; a definite benefit for those who are desirous of matriculating into universities in the United States. The school is also working assiduously with partners in Trinidad and Tobago to introduce robotics to our students in January 2023.

St. Mary’s College undertakes these initiatives because our boys are St. Lucia’s elite forces – they must NEVER be elitist. – but they are called to be the elite “soldiers” of St. Lucia. Our nation must expect much because the boys have been given much — they will deliver by the grace of God!

These “sterling sons”, these “Men in Training”, must know rules and recognize that the collective is stronger than an individual. Some without fathers, some without active parents, all need a team. Sometimes the requirements of the team may squeeze our individuality but will never destroy our creativity.

“Step TOGETHER….” not mere words.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Despite the clang of useless chatter, i encourage the Chairman and Board of SMC to hold firm and continue to apply the winning formula that has preserved our unmatched legacy of global success for more than a century.

    Indeed, there is no other ‘grooming’ institution in the world that can boast of similar success, in turning giddy little boys into enlightened men… even though, sadly, some may arrogantly fail to acknowledge the role that SMC played in their enlightenment.

    Most (if not all) of the postulations against SMC posted here reek of roguish puerility, deranged passion and absolute ignorance… a fundamental ignorance of the tremendous challenge it is to get a large number of rowdy teen-boys to just settle down to learn… to ensure equitable access to learning for each individual student. Indeed, If the institutional rules are not collectively followed then all individuals will be denied access to a valid education… since, as this prevailing circumstance threatens, more time will be spent on pursuing discipline than pursuing knowledge.

    The viciously envious foes are viciously smiting, left and right. There is no genuine concern for our boys here… they only wish for our demise… our degeneration… into something less than exceptional.

  2. The child wearing A head covering,will be more of A distraction,as well as exposing them to ridicule and derision.I wonder if the same rules apply to Caucasian students who attend said institution.To attempt to even attempt to connect one’s hair to the social ills of society is only A cop out.Just take A look at Einstein and you will understand.What about our precious Jesus being A Nazarene where is the uproar.This issue needs to be put to rest once and for all and give students A conclusive opportunity to receive A quality education.

  3. Why are we born with hair if we are to cut it? This is slavery mentality! If a white boy came to school with his hair not entirely shaved I’m sure he would allowed. If a female came with straitened hair it would be allowed

  4. @James: I checked with my sister who had friends on both sides of that concrete fence. My sister in her 90’s has a brain as an Elephant. My sister had white tops and blue skirts which was recognized as convent uniform, god’s children on the other side wore a much darker colour – I guess to let everyone in that close knit community know what the score was, as though they didn’t know. That didn’t happen at SMC, but the Brothers had ways of humiliating people – I can give you a laundry list of their crap, but forget it, life is too short. Today I pray the future is a lot better for those with an education. God answers all prayers.

  5. With the up surge in crime I have heard everyone calling the government, the churches, the school to do something but no one is holding the parents responsible. How can you encourage a child to break rules that are set to help in the proper up bringing or to help guide them. Then turn around when they go the wrong way and say my child was a good boy. “YES he was till you help him break rules set to guide him/her. You accepted the rules of the school when your child entered so follow them if not get your child out.
    Second the Schools need to set rules and stick with it most school send girls home when uniforms are too short as most require uniforms to be two inches below the knee why am I seeing girls with ankle length uniforms. Also I see head covering by some girls. That should not be, uniform are given for a reason, so every one looks the same to avoid discrimination. If these head covering and extra long uniforms are accepted then schools are also breaking the rules . Please we are only 238 sq miles we don’t have money to fight crime STOP following what you’ll see on tv and these first world countries. With all of their resources take a closer look at what’s going on with them. Parents be the guide your children need Stop rewarding their bad behaviour to make up for your absent. They need your love and attention. They go to these extremes as they are seeking your attention.

  6. I was 14 yrs entering SMC at the original building, before the great Castries fire. The Irish Brothers had just come over to run things there. We the kids back then are Angels compared to those of today. These Irish Brothers took it to a ridiculous level; so ridiculous its like a detention for winking an eye; I broke every stupid rule there was, but I was good at many sports except Cricket. Derek Walcott was a Prefect so was one who became Doctor, and so on. Some of us hated the place for the stiff rules, like being seen outside of school grounds without uniform. The Convent was worse. It was split by a concrete wall. It was all for girls whose parents were married, the other side wore a different shade because parents were not married. A delegation of the first Labour Party Government put an end to this charade. Back then you better dress properly, so we did but quietly rebelled on ass whippings on Saturday Mornings by these Irish Brothers. Most of the boys like us ended up in the U.K., I made good use of my time all over Europe, then North America, after taking a few good looks at St.Lucia, I’m glad now I didn’t stay. The good Lord had a greater purpose for me, just where I am with grand and great grands; thank you Lord.

    • #The Fox: The nostalgia you express for physical abuse is also known as Stockholm Syndrome! It strengthens my claim that the prime reason for St. Mary’s College was, and still is, to turn out dutiful house negroes for the colonial plantation of St. Lucia!

    • So you mean St. Joseph’s convent was a segregated school? Between married and unmarried couples? WTF… I ain’t never heard that history. 😮

  7. The Board of Management of St. Mary’s College & its Chairman, Anthony Bousquet, get an “F” for this Form 1-level essay. Evidently, during their 5 years at St. Mary’s College, they had been paying more attention to the upkeep of their regimented coiffures than the learning and practice of English Composition!

    The mental image evoked by the words, “step together,” is of St. Mary’s College students shackled together, at the ankles & wrists, by rigid rules, for the express purpose of eventually shackling their minds towards their future roles as house negroes (professional managerial class) for the masters of neo-feudalism/slavery/colonialism!

    The St. Mary’s College experience is designed to perpetuate the status quo, to reinforce the lie that there is no other way but capitalism. Hence, disciplined graduates must be generated continually to guard the masters’ ill-gotten gains from being repatriated to those who actually worked to generate it.

    The weak excuses presented in this essay, as well as the deliberate public uproar engendered by it, is a not so clever ruse to obfuscate the role of St. Mary’s College in St. Lucia as the elite academy for turning out security guards for the laundering of black rage at the system!

    In support of my opinions, laid out above, I’ve tried to link to an article, titled “Laundering Black Rage” by the poet, Too Black, that was published by the Black Agenda Report. There is active censorship at play, but it is easy to use the search terms, “Laundering Black Rage” & “Black Agenda Report” to find the article online. It confirms my opinion that St. Mary’s College is nothing but a front to launder latent black rebellion against the oppressive neo-colonial system!

  8. The Board of Management of St. Mary’s College & its Chairman, Anthony Bousquet, get an “F” for this Form 1-level essay. Evidently, during their 5 years at St. Mary’s College, they had been paying more attention to the upkeep of their regimented coiffures than the learning and practice of English Composition!

    The mental image evoked by the words, “step together,” is of St. Mary’s College students shackled together, at the ankles & wrists, by rigid rules, for the express purpose of eventually shackling their minds towards their future roles as house negroes (professional managerial class) for the masters of neo-feudalism/slavery/colonialism!

    The St. Mary’s College experience is designed to perpetuate the status quo, to reinforce the lie that there is no other way but capitalism. Hence, disciplined graduates must be generated continually to guard the masters’ ill-gotten gains from being repatriated to those who actually worked to generate it.

    The weak excuses presented in this essay, as well as the deliberate public uproar engendered by it, is a not so clever ruse to obfuscate the role of St. Mary’s College in St. Lucia as the elite academy for turning out security guards for the laundering of black rage at the system!

    Here is an alternate essay offering a truthful exposition of a black man’s world:
    https://www.blackagendareport.com/laundering-black-rage

    We learn that St. Mary’s College is but a front to launder latent black rebellion against the oppressive system!

  9. Re Article! To all the nay Sayer..
    What’s about, Dres for success?
    School is not for everyone, but,if you are attending a school there are rules and regulations and if you choose not to abide by the rules, you should find a different school that would accept you .
    (Rules are to be followed) otherwise we are doomed..I endorse my thoughts…

  10. This is a bunch of BS and they know it. Form 4s and 5s break these rules all the time. I know. I did and nobody batted an eyelid. And that was in the time of kyack. There were guys with afros roaming the school as “craig mark” was the style then. Even kyack had his afro. So what nonsense is that y’all speaking. The hairstyle has no bearing on learning. Despite ignoring so many of these stupid rules I went on to graduate with distinction and later university honours. Most of these rule breakers did. This is about conforming to stupid rules and people getting their power trips. The school is in shambles and they do nothing about it. Why focus on this? This massa nonsense has to stop.

  11. Many who end up in prison ultimately blame their parents for failing to adequately guide them when they were children. If you allow children to assume the role of adults then you have lost the game. Rules set a foundation for discipline. We may not always be comfortable with them but we see the benefits in time. It is no surprise that some of the countries with the lowest levels of crime have some of the most draconian rules/laws. Our country needs more positivity at this time. Let us stop fighting the systems and institutions that try to keep things together and work collaboratively to build a better society. Peace and love.

  12. The government should focus on creating jobs for students after they leave school. That’s what the focus should be. You study, you go to school, you cut your hair, you follow the rules and do everything right. Still cannot get a job after you leave.

    The so called iconic learning institution called St. Mary’s college (Fake college) can’t even guarantee you a job. They got it all backwards and twisted up.

  13. And that’s why our society is in shambles. People are aware of the rules, but think they shouldn’t apply to them. First it’s the hair, then it’s something else. You knew the rules, follow them or go to another school.

    • Be quiet, your society in shambles because the government is not enforcing the laws and they not securing their ports of entry. Peoples hair have nothing to do with why your society is the way it is. People should be allowed to express them selves with their natural hair, point blank period. Rules also need to get challenged and changed as time goes by just like some of these old colonial laws need to be amended and or changed.

      • You don’t want the school to enforce its laws but you expect the government to do so. It starts somewhere. That’s what some of you don’t get. It’s starts with the little things. Nobody says the student shouldn’t have his natural hair. They ask that it be a certain length and also gave an option for him to have it covered. The parents were aware of the rule beforehand. When he gets a job and his employer has no such requirements, then fine. We’ve become a society where anything goes. I support what the Chairman said in his release.

  14. Fully supported Mr. Chairman. Mr Chairman I fully endorse you to be the Dean of the department of Nursing at SALCC. That department is in desperate need of a professional like you. Thank you.

  15. Blah blah blah blah BUNCH OF CRAP that has nothing to do with a student skill set and learning ability…Get out of here you bunch of Fascist. I live for a moment like this , I wish I was a parent that you Clowns denied my child the constitutional right to education because of “their hair” without the shadow of any dought it’s England the case would end up if they would hear it. When you impeached upon ones personal physique and use it to denied them access that’s discriminatory and a gross violation of one’s civil liberty hands down . O lord why it could not have been me, they would know what time it is trust me.. I would walk away, but I would leave a change precedence in policy for others not to endure.

    • please spell doubt correct.
      if you were aware of the rules aforehand, why break them?
      and we wonder why the rules of the country aren’t kept…

  16. @get it right speak for your self, we don’t all follow America hun…Some of us are in France, England, Canada, Brazil, etc. “get it right”. Thank You !!

  17. The chairman mentioned that the United States, from whom we now secure many of our cultural influences, is a country known for individuality and the preservation of rights. How does your institution identify with this if you want to take away the rights of someone choosing how they want to wear their hair? Since you want to draw reference from the US, all the credible educational institutions in the US allow you to wear your hair the way you want to.

  18. Before we go on cheering folks who claim that rules are rules, let us no forget that St. Mary’s is not a private school but a public Institution funded by the government through tax payers and local contributions. If the young man covers his hair or wear it in a neat fashion, I do not see the big deal in asking him to cut his hair so he can attend school. My nephew is St.Lucian born, who moved to the United States at age 6 and always had his hair braided. He went through all his schooling and never took a hair cut, had dreads in high school and got a full scholarship to Harvard yes Harvard and graduated. He is now in his mid 20s and still has dreads doing very well for himself. So lets get out of that high society mentality and stop alienating folk based on our meaningless prejudices, The young man should be graded on his academic ability and not the length of his hair.

    • You can’t tell these Lucians nothing, they backward and never change. That St.Mary’s college they be touting . That’s not even a real college, if you ask me. They always bowing to America like it’s the model for us all to follow. That same America they talking about have a bill called the C.R.O.W.N ACT. Fighting this exact hair dissemination. When you leave school you can’t even get a job. A bunch of fool trying to play highty tighty nonsense.

      • @janice……..we all following America….we shop talk walk drink America then we all backward palo…….we cant get a job and is still the America we going…..st lucians are America maddddd….so dnt be hating…im sure u hav been dere dun dat with ur HIGHTY TIGHTY nonsense also

    • “Saint Mary’s is not merely a school. It is an iconic learning institution built on the shoulders of many great St. Lucians”. As someone who went to SMC I used to think with that level of arrogance. Then I went to university in the US and ended up taking classes with Chinese, Indians , Russians and of course Americans. Let me tell you these guys even though they were a couple of years younger than me they were so advanced in Finance, Math, Economics, Programming and already had an overall mindset to invest, or start their own business and not just look for a job. And yes they were black students with dreads, twist and braids at my college as well as many of the Ivy League schools in the US, so no you did not have to cut not cover your hair to get accepted to these schools. Globally we are so far behind in St.Lucia. I went to SMC and A Level but stIll found so many gaps in my education. If SMC wants to create leaders who are capable of truly transforming our country ( and not just keep talking about Walcott or Arthur Lewis) then they should be more of a focus on modern curriculum, better teachers and standards needed to compete globally, and less of this foolishness about hair. Just my 2 cents.

  19. @W,……becuz u know why??? once parents and the public hear SCHOOL they ready to jump and take defence like jack a$$….we heard abt this situation but did anybody wait to hear the school’s point of view or even see the child’s hair on the media??? every body blaming the school poor jab but refuse to find out all the details…i say now and will always say this country will continue to bleed because parents support their kids in all sorts of behaviours without disciplining them or speaking the truth….rules are rules…whether now or before….everywhere has rules…..our children need to obey rules…..they will go to the work force and abide by rules….i think once a child’s hair is covered or nicely cut there shudnt be a problem….i see so many girls wearing braids to schools and boys with cornrows neat and nothing is being said….i did wonder why at first why this boy’s hair became an issue…..another thing people need to stop comparing teachers with students…..if teachers were the issue the principals would say something and i not talking abt what i dont know…..the parents self coming with all their nipples showing and they shud be ashamed in their crop tops……wat a mess this society has become…

  20. I’m not a Samarian but this is the elite school for boys in St.Lucia, so yes they can change the rules for all other schools except for Smc and Sjc. These are elite schools that need to keep their standards in order to maintain and separate themselves from other schools.

  21. Parents and guardians SHOULD know, that ALL INSTITUTIONS (work, education, army, police, etc.) employ a DRESS CODE!! From school, all rules and regulations to prepare to go into the working world are enforced – learn that discipline from school days. Once one dresses in a “UNIFORM”, a “dress code” is usually applied – that is part of the discipline of growing up.

  22. Am glad I ain’t finish my schooling in Saint Lucia. Am in a place where am free to express my self.

    I can have my hair in whatever hair style I choose to, including dreadlocks as long as it’s neat and groomed.

    Still graduated, still got my degree, still making close to 6 figures. These people can’t tell me nothing !! I went to a real college.

    All I can say is, be your self, get your education, be respectful, dress to impress and choose your own destiny, don’t allow people to tell you what you can and cannot do. And most of all, be self reliant, do for self!!

    Because at the end of the day, you can confirm all you want. You know you ain’t getting no job when you leave school in that place.

  23. “Yet, to enter the best academies your hair must be cut; even in the US, the need for team is acknowledged and revered.”

    Yes I remember university, watching people walk around with Afros, braids, multi colored hair,etc.
    Far better than any of the colleges here lol but okay, y’all can continue defending them I think it’s time for a change. Even the MILITARY has actually got rid of the majority of hair restrictions, a place where people go to war had loosen the restrictions compared to a place where people go to learn…

  24. If it is the rule why did the child’s father discuss it with the board along with other parents to have this hair rule change. I do not like the manner this played out. Rules can be changed. The same way it was accepted before and changed, it could have been changed. The father and child knew that this is the rule yet decided to break it. That is where they went in my view. You do not like something, discuss it instead of deciding to break the rule and call foul.

  25. Well spoken, cover your hair young man when at school and show more discipline as well as the parents, you’re children are watching and learning from your every word and action! I love that, bringing in the SAT Tests for the USA And in addition Robotics! What about bee keeping and Forrestry work programs….

  26. Well said Mr. Chairman. The PM and the Minister of Education both went to SMC . I am sure they followed the rule book. SPEAk up all old boys.

  27. Step together, play the game
    Thus we’ll bring St. Mary’s fame
    Unity will make us strong
    Love will guide our steps along

    Love indeed our lives will frame
    Love for God, which cares not whether
    Foes smite (right!), left, right (ribit!)
    We Samarians work together
    Steady boys and STEP TOGETHER!!

    • As a parent of a former student I support you 10000%. Like the former Chinese Emperor note. “Parent are now obeying their children ” If you don’t like the rules teach your children at home.

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