In the Dark and Out of the Loop

Over vacation, PA students watched as many global news sources criticized Andover for accepting a $500,000 donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal — the same man whose donation to the September 11th fund was rejected by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani rejected the donation because of Bin Talal’s public assertion that Americans themselves, through foreign policy actions, were partially responsible for the September 11th attacks. Whether or not the unsuspecting students, who saw Andover’s name flash across the pages of The Boston Globe, The New York Sun and The Eagle Tribune, deemed the Office of Academy Resources’ (OAR) solicitation of the funds immoral or not, the student body certainly deserved and still deserves a public explanation from the school and community in which they live. Although the Office of Communications has posted a small blurb regarding the donation on Andover’s website, many students were awaiting and still await a public announcement and an opportunity for students to ask questions regarding the issue. OAR and the Office of Communications have simply left students in the dark and out of the loop. The Phillips Academy publications office provided to the faculty, via the faculty Gazette, information and explanations regarding the issue, yet not one of the Academy departments has formally addressed the students. Over the break, some PA students received phone calls from local and regional news agencies, seeking to print student reaction to Bin Talal’s gift. If PA students are being pestered by news agencies, the administration- most notably the Head of School’s office, OAR, and the Office of Communications- owe the student body some type of explanation or announcement. It is unfair for the administration to ignore the fact that national news agencies questioned the Academy’s integrity and morals, when students devote so much time and hard work to this community. Is the Academy attempting to sweep this donation under the rug? Or are administrators hoping that the whole “incident” will just blow over? Whatever the answer, students remain ignorant; this lack of communication seems ironic in a community which prides itself on higher knowledge and the student’s ability to make independent intellectual judgements. Some type of public address to the students should be in order — whether it is a public relations nightmare or not.