Since Junior year, before I reached the age of consent, Andover has told me that “yes meant yes.” I have known that my body is my own and that I have every right to do — and not do — what I want with it. Andover has made significant efforts to inform our student body of the horrors of rape culture — that sexual assault and rape take away from victims that choice of what one does with their bodies. And yet, despite how Andover proudly states the “yes means yes” policy, this very sentiment often goes ignored when our school handles sex on campus.
According to the “Sex-Pert” panel that took place two Fridays ago, even when students are engaging in safe, legal, and consensual sexual intercourse, there are consequences to their actions. At Andover, if students are caught having sex — even if both students are over the age of 16 and are both consenting — the school informs the parents of the students, and the students are required to be physically and emotionally evaluated at Sykes.
Students engaging in sexual intimacy in a consenting and healthy way should be encouraged — not be made to feel ashamed. By essentially tattling on students for participating in sexual activity, Andover drives students to participate in dangerous behaviors such as having sex in uncomfortable places, not asking important questions about their sexual health, or becoming confused about their sexuality.
Andover must realize that telling a student’s parents about their sexual activities might cause irreparable damage to a family unit. The school should be aware that having sex and deciding how to treat one’s sexuality is a choice that is not family business.
Most students left home for the amazing education that Andover has to offer; others came to Andover to escape judgment and possibly toxic family units. The current consequences of being caught having sex on campus do not take into consideration a student’s family situation and values, and as a result it targets students who dare to say “yes.”
For some students, reporting sexual activity to their parents implies that the act — the consensual and legal act — is wrong. It punishes students who have decided to claim autonomy of their bodies and have chosen to engage in sexual activity. Additionally, students who are coming from religious or conservative backgrounds are indirectly focused away from exploring their bodies and their sexualities due to familial expectations. I believe this is wrong.
The fact that Andover allows faculty members to report legal and consenting students takes away from their ability to choose what to do with their own bodies. It indicates that saying yes to a consenting and legal activity is inappropriate.
While I thank Andover for teaching me about healthy, consenting, and trusting relationships, I just wish that I could have a positive relationship with Andover.