Crackdown Rumors Prompt Cleanup

One Andover student poured forty dollars of vodka down the sink. Another spent part of Friday evening searching a campus dormitory for places to hide contraband. Rumors of an alcohol crackdown caused some students to reevaluate their plans last weekend, ridding their rooms of illegal substances and paying closer attention to Blue Book regulations. West Quad South Cluster Dean Peter Washburn said that, while he does have some concerns about alcohol consumption on campus, rumors that administrators would use breathalyzers or conduct random room searches are false. Mr. Washburn said, “We are not going to do random room searches, we are not going to search every room in a certain dorm, because we don’t do that. Only if I have very firm evidence that someone has alcohol, then we might conduct a room search.” Washburn continued, “From the little things from here and there, and the unsubstantiated rumors I have heard, and I heard more than I should have, I was starting to see this little ground swell building. Because we haven’t had an alcohol bust recently, students may be getting too comfortable, and thinking that we don’t really care, but we do care.” Washburn shared his concerns with some students, including members of the crew team and students in his math classes. “I talked to some people I’m close to, and I told them, ‘here’s something I’m concerned about. Don’t do anything stupid, so that I don’t put you in a situation where I’m gonna have to bust you as much as I love you.’ It was sort of a warning.” Mr. Washburn says that the Deans did not have any plans for room searches. But the rumor-mill quickly set to work. “Kids have been really scared lately. They have been throwing out their stuff, and I’ve heard that someone even buried substances and alcohol outside in water-coolers,” said one student, speaking on a condition of anonymity. A student who estimated that several dorms on campus each spend between $200-$300 per weekend on alcohol said, “It seems the faculty is mad at how ridiculous things have gotten, but in the long run, things are just going to go back to the way they were because there’s not that much to do here on the weekends besides drinking and other prohibited activities.” But other students say that the panic caused them to rethink their activities and to resolve against drinking on-campus. During Fall Term of last year, Cluster Deans searched dorm rooms in Day Hall and Andover Cottage, looking for illicit drugs. According to the Blue Book, such searches must be conducted by the Cluster Dean with both the house counselor and cluster D.C. representative present. The Blue Book policy on room searches says, “House counselors and Cluster Deans must have immediate access to any room upon knocking and may confiscate any items not permitted in a dormitory. Given a serious concern, they may use a key to enter a room whether a student is present or not. On the rare occasion when a systematic search for contraband is necessary, the cluster dean will conduct it formally.” Rumors of random breath alcohol tests at weekend events also proved to be unfounded. Andover is one of the few prep schools that does not even own a breathalyzer, and a move to install one in Isham Health Center last year was blocked by School Physician Dr. Richard Keller, who said there would be no justification for it from a medical standpoint. He said, “Everything we do at Isham is for the healthcare of the students… it shouldn’t be part of the disciplinary process. We have no need for [a breathalyzer].”