It’s no surprise to me that there has been very little discussion following the release of the State of the Academy. I filled out the survey, and I knew exactly what I wanted to look for in the published copy with all the data I needed to reevaluate our campus, but once it came out nothing happened. We collect all this information about our student body and discuss the statistics with our peers for a few days, yet nothing is done with the information. While I acknowledge the administration’s attempt to initiate a dialogue following the publication of SOTA, I believe that it failed to bring about productive and important conversations.
There needs to be more than one hour-long conversation held as a follow-up to the SOTA on our campus, in order for our community to understand the data and what we need to do to make a difference. With such little time, there was not much room to talk about the many topics at hand during the debrief meeting on Monday. We cannot just meet once and expect every problem to be addressed nor can we expect there to be effective solutions. These are conversations that need to be held continuously, in both the student body and our administration if we as a community ever want to understand what needs to be done in order to establish change.
For example, I participated in the group about the discipline category of SOTA, in which we discussed how the Disciplinary Committee process is very obscure. As someone who cannot personally speak on the Disciplinary Committee experience, I then realized how important it is that I — and other people — take time to understand the intricacies of the Disciplinary process, if we ever want to change this culture. This can be said in regards to arguments about reverse racism, mental health on campus, rape culture, and other important and complex issues brought to Andover’s attention through the SOTA. These are conversations that all members of the community — administrators and students — must take into account and participate in. Additionally, Andover must have these conversations year round since the results of the SOTA are not issues that matter when they are announced; these are topics affecting our community everyday.
People have been discussing what the students can do as a response to the SOTA, but the administration’s role is key to this process. I believe students must have opportunities to discuss what the administration can do to ensure the most inclusive Andover experience. If there were more forums or possible open-houses to question and critique programs such as Foundations and PACE, or to better understand the resources and services offered by the Wellness Center, or to create clarity in the Disciplinary Committee process — the administrations can work directly with the students, who know what the current Andover experience is like, to create the best campus environment.
Conversations cannot just stop with the administration; we need to talk about these topics with our peers, as well. We have to make sure that these topics are brought up whether it be at dinner discussions, forums, or dorm talks. Nothing will be done if we just stop at reading the SOTA. If we want a change, we must take advantage of the information being presented to us. Through these discussions effective solutions can be established, in order to bring about the changes desired.