The Road to Redemption

With the recent buzz on campus about marijuana use, there have been many rumors and suspicions among the student body that the school is planning to adopt an unforgiving one-chance only policy toward student drug use. Fortunately, the administration has given no indication that it is considering adopting any such policy in the near future. A one-strike drug use policy would yield negative consequences for everyone at Andover, not just those who would stand to be expelled. Many Andover students have a friend who uses drugs on campus even if they steer clear of drugs themselves. No one wants to be separated from a friend because of a problem that may prove temporary, or worse, be expelled themselves for being indirectly involved in a drug use situation. With an intolerant drug policy, house counselors and faculty members would be less likely to report a student for using drugs if they didn’t want to see that student forced to leave the school. Friends would be hesitant to seek help for a friend if they thought it meant that their friend would be expelled. No one wants an Andover student to die of a drug overdose because his friends were afraid he would be forced to leave if reported. The two-chance drug policy currently in effect simply makes sense and is the best model for Andover. The mission of Phillips Academy is to enrich every student and prepare him or her for life after Andover. One of the biggest ways in which someone becomes a better person is by learning from his mistakes to gain knowledge that will help him to make wiser decisions in the future. When an Andover student commits a great error in judgment by deciding to jeopardize their safety and school transcript by using drugs at Andover, she has definitely blundered. The Disciplinary Committee then gives her a term to improve herself under the close scrutiny of house counselors, Cluster Deans, and advisers. If she shows that she has learned nothing from her mistake, and decides to use drugs again, then the school would be fully justified in asking her to leave and preventing any further harm she might cause to herself or the community. Most likely, however, she will learn something from her mistake and be better equipped to deal with situations involving drugs and alcohol in the future. To immediately expel her from Phillips Academy would deny her the opportunity to learn and grow from her misstep. If an Andover student were to turn in a poorly written English paper, lacking coherency and full of errors, his teacher would work with him to help him improve his writing skills so that he could become a better writer, he wouldn’t immediately give him a two for the term based on one bad paper. Similarly, if an Andover student uses drugs on campus, the school works with him to help him stay away from drugs and improve his judgment; it doesn’t immediately expel him. In both cases the student would be grateful to the school for turning a mistake on his part into a skill that will help him for the rest of his life. We at Andover have to face the fact that we are an American high school, and there is no way, short of building a wall around the school and strip-searching students daily, that we can completely rid ourselves of drugs. Instead of lashing out at those who make bad decisions by forcing them to leave the school, we should help them to better themselves.