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Andover Community Responds to Memorial Day Protest

The Memorial Day protest staged on Monday elicited mixed responses, in part because of the actions of some of the protesters, which included blasting music, setting up lawn chairs and finishing homework assignments.

“I felt that the nature of the protest wasn’t constructive. People were out there sitting with their phones… There were lawn chairs…people were wearing the flag and blasting music, and it was just giving them a bad image,” said Adrienne Allen ’16.

In this week’s Letter to the Editor, the protest organizers admitted that the protest was “disorganized.” They also acknowledged that some protesters had only shown up to skip classes.

Andrew Reavis ’17, a protest leader, said that there was a mixed response from the students, faculty and the administration.

“Some of my teachers were really pleased that we were doing it and were happy. Others were hesitant to answer for or against, and they were more inquisitive about it, and that was okay. I can understand why they might have questions about it,” said Reavis.

Reverend Anne Gardner, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life, said that during her time at Andover, Memorial Day has been observed in a number of ways, including lowering flags to half-mast and working in conjunction with staff at Paresky Commons to make red, white and blue cupcakes while passing out nametags of Andover alumni who have died in combat.

In years past, Gardner utilized a collection of flags to visually mark the 244 deceased Andover alumni. This year, she additionally chose to erect images of combat boots near the memorial to make the human quality of the losses more tangible.

“I think it is important to note that all of the efforts are meant to impart a sense of gratitude and an opportunity for reflection for the entire Andover community… In addition, while Memorial Day is an American holiday, the theme is not exclusively so. Many other countries have this same sort of observance. Service, and specifically the sacrifice of one’s life in the service of one’s country, is a human endeavor,” wrote Gardner in an email to The Phillipian. Dale Hurley, Instructor in Mathematics and former Navy serviceman, said in an email to The Phillipian that he was impressed by the students who wanted to pay more respect on Memorial Day.

Auguste White ’17 said, “I think that we underestimate the amount of students who have been touched by deaths and service… Andover is always at its best when it is representing every single voice.”

Kieto Mahaniah ’16, who partook in the sit-in, said that he was glad different parts of the community let their voices be heard on the topic.

“There were people that didn’t take part but agreed with them and supported them, there were people that didn’t take part and criticized them, and there were teachers who brought food or excused them [students] classes, but there are also teachers who gave cuts and didn’t like it,” he said.

“Some people didn’t go about the protest in the most respectful way and gave it a little bit of a bad [reputation], but overall, it’s a very good cause,” said Megan Gatton ’17.

Akhil Rajan ’17 said that he believes the protest was used by students as a means to cut class, rather than a meaningful demonstration.

“I don’t think an establishment should be in charge of how you pay your respects,” said Jim Soraghan, night custodian, “It’s up to the individual.”

Hilary Gillis ’15 feels that the protests could have been more well organized, and that because of this, the protest was not as meaningful as it could have been.

“I feel like it’s important that students stand up for what they believe in, but I also think a lot of kids there just didn’t really want to go to class, which isn’t fair to people who actually care about it,” said Gillis

Candy Chan, Annie Dawon Lee, and Alice Ballard-Rossiter contributed reporting.

May 29, 2015