At about 3:00 p.m. every Thursday, phones all over campus light up with the same email. Usually introduced with a catchy pun in the subject line, the Weekender arrives in our inboxes from the Student Activities Office and almost always elicits the same collective response: a disappointed sigh. We wearily scroll through the columns of “activities,” no longer expecting to see a multitude of exciting weekend activities.
The lack of interest in the Weekender illustrates a two-part problem: a lack of communication between students and those who organize weekend activities, and student complacency in advocating for change.
Without sufficient activities offered on the weekends, students spend their weekend nights sitting in Susie’s – commonly known as the Den – playing chess, cards, or staring at their phones. These conditions do not necessarily preclude fun, but hanging out in the Den should not be the only option for students who want to spend time with friends outside of their dorms.
The onus, however, lies upon the student body as much as it does on the creators of the Weekender. As students, it is easy to complain about the lack of weekend activities, but we fail to take our ideas for more exciting events to the people who could help us implement them. In doing so, we build up resentment towards our school without ever facing the heart of the problem.
At Andover, where students spend night after night hunched over textbooks in the library or their rooms, weekends serve as crucial opportunities for students to decompress, recuperate, and recharge before the next week. In The Phillipian’s 2016 “State of the Academy,” 30 percent of students responded that they felt overwhelmingly stressed most of the time at Andover. With so many students working under such intense levels of pressure, it is imperative that weekend nights offer students the chance to take their minds off of the stresses of the week.
But weekends at Andover continue to fail to fulfill their purpose. As the term progresses, there seems to be a growing student dissatisfaction with the events scheduled in the Weekender. Recent events on weekend nights make it obvious that student frustration with the weekend has reached a tipping point. Students are clearly searching for ways to socialize and have fun – not simply for the sake of being teenagers, as some might think, but in an effort to maintain healthy, balanced lives while at Andover.
We are not asking the Student Activities Office to create enough weekend activities to satisfy all the diversity of interest on campus, which is a nearly impossible task; however, we do feel strongly that more activities should be offered. A Den dance scheduled as the only event for the entire school on a Friday night is not only impractical, but also disappointing.
We feel that students should have a means of communicating feedback and ideas to the Student Activities Office. This could take the shape of an online forum, possibly connected to a Student Activities section of the Blackboard website. The school must enable students to take part in the process of planning campus weekends, and community members should be able to give constructive feedback about recent weekend activities and to easily submit suggestions for future events.
Ultimately, students must take the initiative to share their ideas with the Student Activities Office to get what they want out of their Andover weekends. It is only through the collaborative efforts of all community members that the change we are seeking can occur.
This editorial represents the consensus of The Phillipian, vol. CXXXIX.