Real Freedoms, Please

We’re recording? Okay. So, uh, hi, my name is Jack – well, actually, it’s Schuyler – Dickey, and I’m a four-year Senior from Guilford, CT, and I’m running for School President. I’m running because I want to lead you. Like Tom Brady leads the Patriots or, uh, David Koresh led the Branch Dividians – you get the picture. I’ll be there for you like the Rembrandts. My platform? Yeah, okay, better student-administration communication, trays in the Paresky Beanery, water coolers in dorms, more day student parking, better food and no 9:30 sign-in. Vote for me!” So we’re told by 19 different Uppers whose videos nearly shut down my PAnet Sunday night. The more things change, the more things stay the same: We get videos for the first time, and we get the same old issues for the millionth time. Save for one. That pesky little 9:30 p.m. sign-in measure, a not yet official creation from Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, seems to have awoken something out of the ordinary in the candidates. Why we’re opposed to it, no one’s really sure. Apparently, it’s a symbol. I’m sure someone (out of the 479 opposed to the measure to the 25 in favor in a recent poll) is invoking John Locke and Thomas Paine while railing against it. Hell no, we won’t go (for 9:30 sign in). Just don’t ask us why. It’s easy to oppose the earlier curfew. Say something about how rolling back those hours while Andover students are thriving academically and loving their freedom just doesn’t seem right. And when we think about BlueCards as dorm keys (funny, though, I wouldn’t count on this happening), it seems like our freedom is all seeping into the ground like the melting snow. Entertain the idea that we’re still free with 9:30 sign-in. Sure, we’re more restricted to our dorms. Sure, we have less time to mess around in the library, Graves or the Polk. And, sure, this is supposed to mean an increase in the number of dorm meetings—insert sigh here. Do we really need those extra hours of library study? Do people use them? And are dorms really that difficult a place for most people (myself regrettably included) to get homework done? I don’t know. But we’re not hearing the logistical debate, just the philosophical one. But if the logistics work out for 9:30 sign-in, or if they don’t (it’s hard to see the kids who burn the midnight oil in the OWHL successfully road-blocking the Dean of Students), can’t Andover learn to embrace it? Yes. At a price. School Presidential candidates take note here: You can only blast 9:30 p.m. sign-in (it’s the politically popular thing to do, the videos tell me) until it happens or until it goes away. Then you need to find a new horse to beat. Instead, in the fashion of Monty Hall, let’s make a deal. We can afford to give up that extra half-hour (after all, it might just be good for our sleep cycles) in exchange for freedoms we really do want and would use: Academic freedom in scheduling, diploma requirements and pursuing independent projects. Athletic freedom in more flexible fitness options – with more intramural sports offerings for those of us with Jim Thorpe’s competitive edge but Jim Belushi’s workout regimen. Sleep freedom in adopting, or at least piloting, a later start to the class day, as proposed in these pages on November 14. It worked for Deerfield! Freedom from disease. In this winter when so many have been sick in Isham and so many others battling through classes with a debilitating flu-type bug, it’s a good thing Andover had some sense and lightened students’ workloads and cancelled a few classes. Wait, that never happened. We’re still sick and sleepless. Off-campus freedom through reducing the hassle inherent in off-campus pursuits, like Model UN competitions and Worlds Speaking Championships. These are just a few thoughts. I pray our future president has more. But all of these ought to mean more to us than that half-hour from 9:30 to 10 p.m. three nights a week. Candidates and reform-minded students alike should be wary of administrative decisions lacking student support. They’re like getting infected teeth pulled without Novocain. Unfortunately, the tooth’s coming out anyway. It can be painless (we get a few things fixed around here) or it can be painful (inconsequential rhetoric galore, before it happens anyway). Maybe I should have flossed more. Jack Dickey is a four-year Senior from Guilford, Connecticut and former News Director of The Phillipian.

Feb 26, 2009