Point/Counterpoint: Showing the Light

Last year, I made a decision that would prove to define my Upper year: I chose to live with freshmen. This is a baffling decision to some, and I remain to this day partially incapable of articulating my motives for having done so. Of course, I wanted to prefect, and as September 7th drew closer, the thoughts on my mind were about the day new students would arrive and my first hall meeting. Perfecting would be a big responsibility, but I wanted to help. So far, to the best of my knowledge, things are going very well. Each one of my nine boys has successfully begun a smooth transition to life at Andover, and I am pleasantly surprised by the close-knit community that has formed in just four short weeks. Each has begun to assume the identity shared by every student on this campus: that of an Andover student. But, just as we all did, they still have a long way to come. The change in workload, the absence of hovering parents to do laundry and pick up after their children, the constant proximity of members of the opposite sex, and the ability to order pizza every single night weigh down on every student, hampering their path to success. That is where I come in. After having endured years at Andover, I have the valuable experience to help guide each of the boys in my hall through his freshman year. My Junior year feels as if it were yesterday; I now look fondly upon the then-vexing retribution of a 8:00:05 p.m. sign-in and headphones requirement during study hours. Now, as an upper, I thank my house counselors and prefects for establishing in me a foundation of good habits. Perfecting gives me a unique look at the growth of an Andover student, because I am able to compare my own biased perceptions of freshman year to my more objective views today. It is sometimes unbelievable to think that I was just as naïve and undisciplined as some of the students under my control, but this is completely true. Few juniors could succeed at PA with the habits with which they arrive. However, with the structure imposed by the house counselors and prefects of junior dorms, freshmen steadily mature. Juniors will argue that I am wrong. I am not, and this is why. Prefects always operate under the watchful eye of house counselors who have used years of dorm experience to perfect the method of running a productive junior dorm. Given that the house counselors, prefects, cluster deans, and administrators who play a part in the time-tested system give it their unanimous endorsement, it is safe to say that the system is effective. However, this is a system that can only run smoothly if completely enforced. Keep in mind that the productivity of junior dorms is largely defined by their least disciplined students, and they must uphold their standards. In other words, a freshman dorm must maintain a constant level of stringency that eliminates as many hindrances and distractions as possible, while attempting to infringe on as few liberties as possible. The decisions of how strict to keep regulations are made on a case-by-case basis for each individual dorm. What that means is that the task lies with the juniors to increase their own dorm freedoms by demonstrating personal initiative and responsibility. Finally, I make the point that while they are certainly entitled to that opinion, juniors should consider the circumstances before chastising the upperclassmen in charge of their dorm life. It is not prudent for one to bite the hand that feeds him. Before getting angry, juniors with problems with their prefects (or anyone else) would do well to attempt to respectfully discuss issue with the prefect. Odds are the prefect will extend the same courtesy and will be able to relieve any significant qualms. The bottom line is that while the atmosphere and regulations of junior dorms may seem overly stringent, they are in the best interest of the student and completely controllable by his or her own actions.