Don’t Force Non Sibi

There are many good things we can say about Non Sibi Day. Administrators and faculty worked tirelessly to see the day come to fruition. Student-leaders provided strong management and brought an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm. The students themselves, most of who participated with little reluctance, created a real feeling of non sibi. The day turned out to be a beautiful, remarkable achievement. In making Non Sibi Day involuntary, however, the organizers underestimated PA students. It seems insulting that organizers thought it wiser to force students to participate rather than risk poor attendance by making participation optional. Since when have PA students demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm in community service? We point it out frequently: 80 percent of students at Andover participate in community service at some point in their time here. Strong, perhaps full student participation could just as easily have been accomplished if the program had been voluntary. Furthermore, there were times when Non Sibi Day felt more like a marketing gimmick or public relations ploy than a day dedicated to selfless works. As students, it was sickening to think that our efforts, good spirits and genuine feeling of non sibi might be packaged as part of a marketing campaign. Why did we need tee-shirts, even though they seemed to serve no practical purpose except in photo shoots? Why were student leaders required to submit five of their best photos to administrators? Why did the school need a non sibi webpage? Will our efforts be used to sell a forced image of Andover? Even this board is skeptical of this perception, but it is worth noting that many students felt publicity in the air. Tee-shirts, photo shoots and webpages were nevertheless distractions to what really happened on Non Sibi Day. Non sibi was very much alive in most students, faculty, administrators and alumni that day. As Mr. Efinger brilliantly put it, we all “hammered [our] nail,” and we made a difference. No matter how sharp this column’s criticisms, Non Sibi Day was an extraordinary success. But we didn’t need to be forced into it. We didn’t need tee-shirts, photo shoots or webpages. All we needed was an opportunity to make a difference. Over and over again, this community – students, faculty and administrators alike – have demonstrated their genuine desire to make a difference. We just don’t need the rest of it.