By Anna Young
Instead of searching for the perfect prom date, seniors at Pleasantville High School may be looking for a new venue to hold the celebration.
The senior prom is scheduled for June 8 at Trump National Golf Course in Briarcliff Manor, but some members of the graduating class no longer want one of the most anticipated events of their high school career to be held in a place associated with President Donald Trump.
After Muslim-American students and many female students expressed their discomfort with the decision to hold the prom at Trump National, senior class Co-President Mary Kate Crowe said she met with student government members, the Human Rights Action Committee, a student group at the school, and district administrators to discuss moving the prom somewhere that could be considered politically neutral.
“We realized the situation needed to be rectified once President Trump signed the executive order banning travel from seven primarily Muslim countries,” Crowe said. “Muslim-American students expressed their discomfort with supporting a business led by a man who many believe is limiting the civil liberties of a certain population.”
Crowe said some members of the student body don’t mind attending the prom at the current location, but she said others feel it’s inappropriate to hold a celebratory event at a place that at least a portion of the class would consider divisive.
“It is our wish that politics are not on anybody’s mind for our celebration and that we may all come together for an evening without putting students in a position where they feel uncomfortable attending their own prom,” she said.
Despite a $4,000 nonrefundable deposit that was paid last February, Superintendent of Schools Mary Fox-Alter said a series of questions still need to be answered before a decision can be made. The money for the deposit was derived through fundraisers held by the Parent Council and the students.
School officials are currently meeting with student government representatives to review options, she said.
“It is important to remember that prom is a unifying capstone event and this discussion is an opportunity for students to engage in a meaningful dialogue while respecting others’ viewpoints,” Fox-Alter said. “I know that this extraordinary group of students understand the ultimate goal – which is to have a meaningful and memorable prom experience.”
Board of Education President Angela Vella said she supports the administration’s decision to allow students to express their concerns but hopes the students realize that a prom’s location doesn’t endorse a political viewpoint.
“We don’t want to alienate anyone, and we don’t want this to be a political or divisive process,” said Vella, who mentioned that Trump National was selected because it’s in close proximity to Pleasantville. “Our hope, by allowing this to play out in a democratic way, is that we will make the best decision as a whole and the students can focus on celebrating their prom.”
With many factors being considered before a decision can be reached, including cost and availability of other venues, Vella added that this will be a good civics lesson for students.
Crowe said the original decision was made before the future president secured the nomination last year. In retrospect, it is a move that some members of the school community wish they could have back.
“I was involved in picking Trump (National) as the first venue last year before Trump had even received the Republican nomination and it was a decision that I along with some members of the Parent Council deeply regret,” Crowe said.
Students may hold a vote on how to proceed as early as this week, she said.