This summer has seen many major revisions to the 2015-2016 Blue Book, including the explicit promotion of healthy relationships and consent, a ban on the possession of e-cigarettes, a change in room visiting policies and practices and new procedure to ride taxis.
The Blue Book now includes a section that states that giving consent to sexual activity requires students to be over 16 years of age, to give a definite “yes” of their own volition and to be fully awake and conscious while making the decision. Last year’s Blue Book did not stipulate rules regarding conditions of consent.
“We have added language around healthy relationships and consent that all students should read, think through and ask questions about if they do not understand,” said Jennifer Elliott, Dean of Students.
Furthermore, the revised Blue Book removed language that explicitly discourages sexual activity, although it does maintain, as it did last year, that there are circumstances in sexual relationships on boarding school campuses that are particularly challenging.
The revised Blue Book also includes new regulations regarding the possession of e-cigarettes by students on school. This year’s Blue Book bans the possession of e-cigarettes, while last year’s Blue Book contained language that only banned the “repeated use of… e-cigarettes.”
“In terms of the e-cigarettes, I think we are aware of and know that they are devices that can be used to facilitate not only tobacco use but also marijuana use and other drugs. It is hard to decipher between those drugs, and we want to give kids every reason possible to make good choices and take care of themselves,” said Elliott.
Elliott said that of all the revisions to the Blue Book, she believes the change in stance on consent is the most important.
“It is important for students to know how strongly we feel about affirmative consent, that the absence of consent does not qualify as consent,” said Elliott.
Room-visiting policies and practices were designed to set boundaries for safe and healthy relationships amongst students and to help establish respect for students of all genders, Elliott said.
“What I think we are working hard on and thinking a lot about is that we have room-visiting practices of binary perspective and gender, given that we have boy and girl dorms. Our [revised] room-visiting procedures are designed to honor that we have students on this campus who do not define themselves on that binary and are rather along the spectrum,” said Elliott.
Additionally, the Blue Book now requires all students riding taxis to inform and notify their House Counselors in advance. Last year’s Blue Book contained no such language.
“[Getting permission to ride a taxi] is not the same procedure as getting a car permission, but we want to know for student safety where our kids are,” said Elliott.
Although the changes made in the Blue Book were mentioned by Cluster Deans to students at the start-of-school cluster meetings, the school administration asks that all students read over the Blue Book every year and ask further questions when necessary.
“I hope that [the changes in the Blue Book] will ignite further conversation around open communication, healthy relationships, decision making and communication that kids really need to be having with each other and with adult members on campus,” said Elliott.