An Open Letter to Marlys Edwards

Dear Ms. Edwards, As you may have heard, I recently circulated a petition among the student body aiming to restore the burning “A” tradition. My endeavor has been met with nothing but enthusiasm by the students. In a week, I gathered over 800 signatures, representing over three quarters of the student body. While no current students have experienced the burning of the “A,” clearly there is tremendous interest in resurrecting the tradition. Contrary to your recent comment in The Phillipian, “the burning of the ‘A’ was never a very established tradition,” the ceremony has taken place since the 1950s and is fondly remembered by generations of students. I understand that some current students and faculty may be uncomfortable with the burning of the “A,” and thus I propose to bring back the tradition, but make it a part of the fall Andover-Exeter pep rally, instead of new student orientation. This will accomplish two things. First, this will please the 800-plus students who yearn to restart this time-honored and uniquely-Andover tradition. Second, moving the burning of the “A” to the optional pep rally instead of mandatory orientation will allow those students and faculty uncomfortable with the tradition to avoid it. I understand the obligation of the administration to create an environment welcoming to all. However, by allowing the minority of the students uncomfortable with the tradition to dictate policy, the will of the vast majority is unheard. This should not be the policy of our school. With regards to the safety issues associated with the burning of the “A”, such a ceremony can be conducted in a perfectly safe manner. Public Safety officials and/or local firemarshals could easily oversee the event. While I can appreciate the necessity to create a welcoming environment, I don’t understand how some can relate the burning of the “A” to the burning of the crosses in the South. As The Phillipian stated in their September 23 editorial, “the ‘A’ [is] a symbol of unity and pride, not a tool of bigotry.” Traditions like this are what sets Andover apart and should be embraced as a unique feature of the school, rather than hidden from view in a superficial attempt to be politically correct. Sincerely, Yoni Gruskin ’07