Student Physically Harassed by Unidentifed Man

While most boys saw their Sadie dates safely back to their dorms, one Junior found his own safety threatened on his way back to Rockwell. Michael Yoon ’08 was in the vicinity of Double Brick when a shirtless young man addressed him with vulgar words before throwing him to the ground. Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) is currently working with the Andover Police to locate the individual. Dean of Students and Residential Life Marlys Edwards suggested that students avoid walking along Main Street, and instead travel through campus whenever possible. Ms. Edwards said, “Kids seem to be targets from cars that are passing by, and so it makes a lot of sense to me to talk to students about changing the pattern. They’re probably better off walking through the campus than they are where cars can slow down [and] yell.” Michael Yoon was on his way from Alumni House, in Abbot Cluster, to Rockwell in West Quad North when the incident occurred. He said, “I wasn’t frightened, I was just a little freaked out, [thinking] ‘What is this guy doing?’” A teenager, unidentified as of yet, approached Yoon and proceeded to block his path. According to Yoon, the young man asked him a vulgar question. Yoon responded civilly to the question. He said, “I thought this was just some crazy guy.” According to Yoon’s description, the adolescent who accosted him was a brunette, white male, about fifteen to sixteen years old, six feet tall, and approximately 140 pounds. After grabbing Yoon and tossing him onto the grass, the teen took off down Main Street toward downtown Andover. Yoon then ran back to his dorm and told his house counselor what happened. He then called PAPS and informed them of the encounter. The next morning at 9 a.m. a PAPS officer picked Yoon up at Rockwell and brought him to the PAPS office. There, he gave a formal statement to the Andover Police Department. Ms. Edwards said, “Who knows why this incident happened. Fortunately…the outcome of it wasn’t more serious than what we’re dealing with right now, which is that someone was frightened but not physically hurt.” Although it is a common occurrence for students to be verbally harassed while on Main Street, this physical altercation raises a new level of concern. Ms. Edwards said, “I personally am always thinking about security. I’m always thinking about how we can do a better job of making our campus safe.” The verbal harassment that students regularly endure seems unwarranted, but the phenomenon of turbulent townie-PA student relations is an established fact of PA life. Ms. Edwards said with regard to verbal harassment, “There’s nothing we can do about it, and really nothing we would want you to do about it. We certainly wouldn’t want you to start yelling back.” As always, students are advised against walking alone, especially at night. PAPS officers are available at any time to drive students back to their dorms at night or any time when a student feels uncomfortable. Michael Yoon’s prefects, Philip Meyer ’08 and Jonathan Adler ’08, brought up the occurrence on their WPAA radio show on Tuesday. Yoon called in and related his story. Students have been discussing what has come to be referred to as “The Incident” across campus after receiving a cautionary school-wide e-mail from Ms. Edwards. Hopefully, being aware of this occurrence will motivate students to be even more vigilant.