I choose to write for the Commentary section in The Phillipian because it allows me to express my own thoughts, whether or not they are positive or negative. Commentary section editors encourage their writers to follow a structure of identifying problems that currently affect Andover and its community, as well as suggesting solutions to these issues. This structure, however, creates a platform in which students can rant more about the negative facets of Andover instead of encouraging change, thereby perpetuating a culture of negativity on campus.
Coming to Andover as a new Lower, I was surprised by the very liberal culture into which I was soon immersed. To me, Andover is an extremely accepting community in which students recognize everyone equally, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Some students, however, overemphasize their sense of social justice on these issues. Because of this, conversations about these matters are often quite harrowing, as students with opposing viewpoints must tread carefully to avoid any statement that could offend someone who is sensitive to a topic. Commentary articles further this culture of oversensitivity. When encouraging writers to always find faults in a community, they will begin to find all the flaws of Andover — even the most minor ones. Many students — zealous in their social justice pursuits — are eager to call out things they think are wrong, and these can be exaggerated when word is being spread through talk or paper.
Constantly writing about problems contributes to the spread of this negativity. Articles that constantly address nonexistent or exaggerated problems lead to more negativity in our community. Although, Commentary Editors do encourage their writers to write solutions to their problems when writing their articles, most writers focus on problems too much and less on their proposed solution.
Articles highlighting negative aspects of Andover student life are still extremely significant, and writers should have the freedom to argue for the issues about which they are passionate as these articles are integral not only to The Phillipian, but also to maintaining a student’s voice. I do believe, however, that writers should write with more variety.
Instead of limiting the Commentary section to the problems Andover has, writers should make an effort to comment on the strengths of Andover. I would love to see more articles praising how greatly run an event on campus was, or articles analyzing the Andover culture that share what positive peculiarities the community holds. I also encourage my fellow writers to write more articles on their personal experiences. Andover is a stressful community, and I think students often wonder if others are going through the same troubles and challenges that they are experiencing. Instead of mostly complaints, Commentary could be a section that offers advice to students and helps to spread positivity.
Commentary articles must address problems, but only when we change articles to incorporate more strengths, solutions, and personal experiences can we truly create a stronger and more progressive community.
Celine Cheung is a New Lower from Hong Kong.