Promposals continue despite admin’s disapproval

Afternoon, sunny-day, garden promposals seem characteristic to Urban’s prom season. However, the reminder that the school does not support public asks seems equally as characterizing.

Every year, Assistant Head for Student Life Charlotte Worsley explains to the student body—either in an email or an all school meeting announcement—that Urban does not support public promposals (also known as public prom asks). The suggestion that promposals be done in private settings or outside of school is indeed just that: a suggestion, not a policy.

“If I fight it,” says Worsley, “if I say I don’t like it, and I get my voice out there saying it’s not good, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen periodically, but people are going to think twice before they do it.”

Worsley feels strongly that resisting public-promposal culture is essential to upholding the spirit of Urban’s prom. “What I have tried to preserve and preserve and preserve—and I realize I’m fighting a losing battle—is that prom is a fun place, you don’t have to have a date, you can go with a group of friends, and you don’t have to feel bad about yourself,” Worsley said. Not only is Worsley concerned about the impact public promposals may have on spectators, but also on those being asked.

Worsley has witnessed inappropriate asks. She recalls one in which an older boy asked a younger girl as a joke, with no intention of actually taking her. In another, someone who did not intend on going to prom got asked on stage at an Urban concert in front of students and parents.

Senior Maceo Anderson (‘18) recalls a similar situation: his friend—a sophomore girl at the time—was asked publicly by a junior boy in front of their class. She said yes in the moment, but later Facebook-messaged him saying something along the lines of “hey I said yes because I didn’t want to embarass you, I want to be friends, but I don’t want to go to prom with you.”

This kind of on-the-spot pressure has been avoided in some instances with communication prior to the ask. Anderson was publicly promposed to last year by Jade Barnblatt (‘18) with a pun on a poster in Shakespeare class, after having established that he wanted to go to prom with her and wanted a public ask the day before. “Jade did a really good job of not putting me on the spot because I knew that we were going to prom together so I didn’t feel embarrassed or like I had to say yes or no,” says Anderson.

Worsley does acknowledge that not all public asks follow a negative pattern; “If it’s in a corner of the school, if it’s designed for a small group of people—I still don’t like them—but that could work,” she said.

On the other hand, some students appreciate these kinds of public promposals, even if they are not being asked. “I really enjoyed them last year even if I wasn’t going with anybody,” said Indigo Albani-Bombard (‘19).

Barnblatt echoed this idea: “I’ve never been promposed to; I’m not sad, it just makes me happy to see that someone is willing to make a large gesture for someone else.”

“I think people appreciate it more than feel left out,” said Hannah Schrank (‘19).

While Worsley worries that promposals are adding to the stress of prom, it seems that some students appreciate them as adding to the fun of it. Despite this disagreement, at the end of the day, as Barnblatt said, “Everyone should go. Don’t be scared. You don’t need a date.”