Identification Foul-Up

As I scanned a recent issue of The New York Times, I came across a discussion of a proposed national policy initiative that seemed to reflect certain recent developments inside our own PA community. It is no secret that since September 11th, the United States has increased vigilance in matters of security; recently, those of us who traveled by plane over winter break were confronted with the new requirement that all checked baggage must be scanned for explosives and other dangerous devices. Lately, however, some legislators have proposed a much more dramatic and pervasive security measure – they have advanced the notion that the government should establish a new system of national identity cards. If this system were to be implemented, all Americans could be compelled to carry identity cards at all times and to present them in order to perform even the most basic tasks, such as boarding public transportation or gaining entry to a public building. Needless to say, this has caused controversy. Ironically, a similar controversy has developed here at Andover. Since our snowy arrival back on the Andover campus after winter break, the students have been confronted with the new requirement of presenting our ID’s at weekend events. As much as I agree with the reasoning–that only members of the PA community should be allowed to enjoy PA sponsored and organized events – this new policy was ill-conceived and is being inappropriately implemented. At last Saturday night’s dance, I spotted two chaperones very familiar to me – my house counselor and chemistry teacher. Despite this, I was still required to show my ID to these faculty members in order to enter the dance – even though I see these people every day. Knowing that these teachers were simply following the rules that Andover has imposed, I don’t fault the teachers – instead, I fault our administration. How were these rules developed? Does it not seem tedious and pointless to show an ID to faculty whom you see everyday? Later that same Saturday night, I went to the movie in Kempner Auditorium. However, one of my friends had lost this year’s ID – so she had resourcefully brought along her ID from last year. To our disappointment, she was not allowed into the movie. Once again, this seems ridiculous. I hope that the faculty does not really believe that someone who doesn’t go to PA would search the Andover campus for an outdated ID card and use that false identity card just to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Unfortunately, it seems that many other PA students shared my negative experiences. These new ID requirements have resulted in more students missing PA activities and simply returning to their dorms for lack of any other options. The notion that ID requirements actually enhance the quality of weekend activities for Andover students is completely wrong. The rule didn’t entice more Andover students to attend more events, but on the contrary, it drove them away. While we mustn’t condemn the faculty who put this new policy into effect, Andover’s teachers and administration must realize that the strict implementation of an ID requirement is not a good solution. Andover provides dances and movies on weekend nights to create a badly needed recreational outlet for students who have toiled under stressful conditions during the past week – why make the previously relaxed weekend entertainment environment a new source of stress? Why should Andover students have to worry about carrying their ID cards around at all times? I understand the need to keep PA events solely for PA and I understand that it is not appropriate for Mr. Driscoll to organize events for the entire town of Andover, but there is certainly another solution to this dilemma. The Andover community should be able to protect the integrity of its weekend activities without making the Andover students feel like they live in a police state. Let’s bring back the entertainment to weekend nights.