Every December since the 1940s, Wellesley private and public school juniors and seniors have received by mail heavy card stock invitations in creamy envelopes cordially inviting them to Cotillion, an annual formal dance often held in Boston, and organized by the Cotillion Committee. The Committee is made up of the students’ parents, and these parents put in countless volunteer hours working to make this gift, as the Committee’s website refers to the dance, possible.
So, yes, it’s disappointing that some students regarded the “formal” part of last weekend’s dance as a mere formality, and treated the ballroom of the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel with less than the utmost respect, possibly leading the Westin to charge the Committee damage fees, mostly to clean the carpets.
After all the time, money, and effort so many parents put into making the event happen, many in town are frustrated that outsiders who see Wellesley kids as, well, spoiled rich kids, now have some ammunition to bolster their perception. Others couldn’t care less about what outsiders think and are just wondering what the community is thinking when excuses such as “It wasn’t a school event,” or “Kids make stupid mistakes,” are bandied about as reasons to relax standards and forget about consequences.
People have been wondering if Wellesley High School would hold an assembly to address the rampant talk in the school surrounding the event, but that won’t be happening. Principal Jamie Chisum acknowledged hearing about events, but said that “Since it isn’t a school event, it is pretty difficult for us to have any type of organizational response.”
Cotillion Committee members declined to comment at this time, but told us they would meet in January to discuss this year’s dance and start planning for next year’s event.
So what’s the solution? Kill Cotill? We don’t think it’s necessary to take it that far. Not even the most enthusiastic booster of the event is suggesting that there wasn’t alcohol consumption by a small minority of students, and there is recognition that things got out of hand. It’s patently unfair that a small number of students behaved so abysmally that the rest who were only all about that bass had their good time compromised, and something should be done.
First of all, the “nice” students there to have good, clean fun can’t be expected to police their “naughty” peers. Secondly, going forward the Committee needs reinforcements beyond the event’s on-site security personnel, and those reinforcements should appear in the form of an actual police presence. It may have once been true that chaperones and other parent helpers knew most of the guests personally, and that the venue’s in-house security was adequate to maintain law and order, but that time seems to have passed.
Therefore, it’s time for Cotillion organizers to put in that additional layer of security, and let safety at the event become as ubiquitous as 4″ heels on the girls and tuxedos on the boys.