Milton Could Happen Here

If we were to pick up the Boston Globe on any given day, our eyes would fall on headlines about deaths in Iraq, tornadoes in an obscure town of Kansas, and the ongoing court battle for a high profiled celebrity.  All of the news seems so far removed from our lives at the Academy.  Sunday’s Globe was different; on the front cover lay a shocking headline revealing expulsions at one of our fellow prep schools. The Andover campus was rocked by the events at Milton Academy. Five Varsity Hockey players between the ages of 16 and 18 were expelled for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old sophomore girl. Ever since I first heard of Andover, I was fascinated by how much acclaim the school reviewed in national publications.  Any reference to our school-whether in a New York Times article devoted to the story of scandal at Graham House, or an article about President George Bush’s prep school days here-is preceded by an introduction to our school as an elite and prestigious boarding school.  Reading the article about the Milton incident, in which essentially the same words were used to introduce the school, reminded me of just how close we are to the incident.  Not only is Milton geographically close to Andover, but also many students here have friends who attend the school.  As students of Phillips Academy, the event should alarm us all.  While the story has garnered a lot of acclaim on campus, I fear that the student body is not considering the gravity of the issue; the sexually explicit aspect of the story covers up the darkness of the situation with smirks and giggles.   These reactions are expected, as we are still at the age where we can hardly get through our house counselers’ parietal talk with a straight face.  But if we were to talk to the Milton community, as they try to grapple with this unthinkable event, or better yet to the girl and five boys involved, we would discover that this issue is not so funny.  The girl has been put on administrative leave, not allowed to return to school until further notice.  She has without a doubt suffered humiliation beyond belief, engraining for herself a reputation which will stay with her long after the day she receives her diploma.  For the five boys involved, things couldn’t be much worse. Their expulsions are the least of their troubles; though the activity in question was consensual in reality, no one under 16 can lawfully consent to sex in Massachusetts. Facing statutory rape charges, these boys could spend the rest of their lives in prison. The real question that emerges from the situation, as pertaining to Andover students is simple: could this happen here?  Is it imaginable to conceive the thought of five of our Varsity Hockey players being expelled a week before Andover-Exeter for receiving oral sex from a girl in the showers of a locker room? Without trying to indict the hockey team, for I am only using them as an example by default of the circumstances of the situation, I do believe that it is possible for such a thing to happen.  To avoid the incident, we need to look at the case in its general, not specific meaning. We must extract from the event at Milton a better sense of caution-what seems like a fun joke or ordeal may in fact be more serious.  We are all teenagers on campus, and inherently like to do wild, crazy, fun, and sometimes stupid things.  Most importantly, we must always be aware of the ramifications for all of our actions, whether receiving sexual favors or bullying a fellow member of the community.  If we fail to think before we act, we may place ourselves and the school in an equally embarrassing and demoralizing situation.