My Failed Mission: Searching for Common Sense in the Blue Book

Every year, Andover students receive a let ter instructing them to read through the latest edition of The Blue Book. Not surprisingly, most students ignore this reminder, feeling that they already have a basic understanding of the rules of the academy. What few realize is that The Blue Book can be put to much better uses. Indeed, students are better off burning the 71-page publication, because while The Blue Book will go into great detail explaining the intricate rules of the Andover community, it also essentially states that the academy and its faculty reserve the right to do whatever they want. Under The Blue Book rules, faculty members are allowed to enter your empty dorm room “if necessary,” or confiscate any one of your electronics if they “[feel] it detracts from the academic atmosphere of the dormitory.” It is this grey area interpretation that allows any house counselor to turn their dormitory into a harsh dictatorship. Fortunately, the majority of the house counselors possess a certain amount of restraint. This is, however, limited to a majority, as some house counselors interpret The Blue Book with a fanatical attitude and are even bold enough to make their own personal amendments. In addition to the “house counselor giveth and house counselor taketh away” parts of The Blue Book, new rules are frequently added, sometimes overlooked until they have been broken, such as the bandwidth policy. Although I have heard that the PKN cluster dean sent out an email notifying students of the new changes, most students seem to be oblivious to the new changes. While reading through an old issue of the Pot Pourri, I came across an article in the Phillipian section where students were outraged at the then new “two-strikes and you’re out” policy. Today, a rule change like that would cause a small stir at most, and certainly would not produce a scathing article and a picture of the Editor-in-Chief flipping the bird as it did in ’76. Now as someone who can own property, join the army, drive a car, gamble, buy adult publications, smoke, drink, and marry in almost any country in the world, I find it to be somewhat ridiculous that I am living under almost the same exact rules as a 13-year old freshman. Yet many kids just don’t seem to care. Perhaps that is the reason that year after year students have lost their rights. I suppose it is only natural when the administration pushes and the students don’t push back. What the school needs is common sense. Should students be held accountable when their teacher’s neglect to take cuts off of PAnet? Of course not. Should house counselors wield unlimited power over their students? No, they should grant their students the same respect and privacy that they receive. Should the school continue to discreetly strip the student body of its rights? No way. This is Phillips Academy, the finest school in the country, and with some more common sense, we could be even greater.