The Deciding Factor

The recent announcement of renovations for Pearson, Commons, and Bulfinch has created yet another opportunity for skeptical students to challenge the school administration. The proposal has also sparked debate on whether students should actually have a say in the actions of the administration and Board of Trustees. While some students simply seek to rebel against the administration, others actually have a deep rooted pride in the school and would like to see Andover continue to flourish in the future. This raises many questions on how the school’s decision-makers and the student body should interact on such issues. The administration currently doesn’t have a stated policy on what students can do to “rebel” against decisions to change the school. However, as always, members of the administration encourage students’ to suggest ideas in most matters that affect them. But what does it actually mean to give a suggestion? Will the administration even care? If the Board of Trustees really wants something done on campus, no number of petitions or uprisings will stop them and, to be completely frank, why should they listen? Almost every student currently at this school will be gone by the time the new or renovated buildings are ready for use. Likewise, the days being added to the school year will only affect the class of 2009 for two years, at most. Thus, the implications for the current classes at the school are minimal. Students still do take a certain amount of pride and care in what happens to the campus once they have departed. Students are also the people who know the campus best; f Trustees has spent as much time recently in Pearson as a senior in an advanced Latin class, and, as such, student’s opinions should have some influence. So, the question remains: who should get the larger say, the students who know the school best, or the trustees who have the responsibility of ensuring that the school remains afloat long after the class of 2009 moves on to college? It is imperative that students take a stand on issues that they believe and care about. If students are passive while trustees and administrators make decisions regarding the future of the school, prospective students might be left without the privileges that we enjoy today. For example, years back, students enjoyed the opportunity of studying for a trimester as an intern for a U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. While students at Exeter still enjoy this great experience, students at Andover miss out. It is fair to believe that if Andover students had voiced more of an interest in keeping this program for the future, we might still have this privilege. A situation like this shows the importance of the student’s voice; the students are the basis for the choices made and should therefore take part in decision processes. However, do these voices, if indeed exercised, actually have any effect on decisions? Current debates, such as the one concerning the renovation of Pearson Hall, are a perfect opportunity to test the effectiveness of such a voice. This school is filled with intelligent people who want to enact change, and as such, the administration has an obligation to take these recommendations into the deepest of consideration. Not doing so would be tantamount to oppressing the ability of the students to participate at all. Another flaw in the administration’s current policy is the rejection of the ideas of students who, as mentioned above, probably know the school best. Serious negative consequences for the future of the school could result when the insightful ideas of students are rejected. It is obviously important that students voice their concerns, and not doing so would be detrimental to future student’s experiences. Furthermore, in order to make well rounded and informed decisions, it is the responsibility of the administration to listen and deeply consider student comments. If either of these two guidelines are abandoned, inappropriate decisions will be inevitable.