Bridging the Gap

This week’s School Congress provided a productive opportunity for students, faculty and administrators to discuss current campus issues. This Congress was especially effective in tackling these issues, as its careful organization in small groups allowed for the coverage of a wider range of issues. In the past, the Congress had taken the form of a presentation given by the Student Council to the faculty audience, addressing a few issues with the occasional exchange of questions and answers. This year’s meeting was not only more efficient in that it covered a wider range of issues, but also in that it introduced the element of active discussion. The smaller group format was important for the Congress this year, because the student body is faced with an unusually high number of concerns, chiefly as a result of the upcoming campus renovations. With the Ryley Room pending renovation, the library enforcing policy more strictly and a popular petition for a student center presented to the administration, the issue of student social space is open for debate. Four weeks ago, over a quarter of the boarding population exceeded the student bandwidth limit, prompting discussion of the school’s technology policy and resources. The school’s honesty policy is unclear and inexplicit alongside an arguably inconsistent D.C. system. Furthermore, the course load and study hours policy remain area for concern. Acknowledging the high volume of current campus issues, the ad-hoc discussions were the most viable approach to address the broad range of problems. In addition to providing the capacity to address a multitude of issues, the new system provided an atmosphere more conducive to progressive dialogue among the students, faculty and administration. Many of our peer schools have structured opportunities for discussion practically built into the school day. Sit-down dinners, such as those required by Deerfield and Loomis, provide opportunity for the exchange of opinions between students and faculty over a meal. Although Andover does not and should not have required sit-down meals, the missed opportunity that comes with this freedom needs to be compensated for. This week’s School Congress was successful in providing such a time for structured discussion. However, to sufficiently fill this gap, more opportunities like this one should be set up. By principle, a good decision is an informed decision. The best way for administrators to inform themselves about campus issues is to talk to those parties affected by them: the students and faculty. The recently reformed School Congress and the newly established Head’s Table are both effective means of accomplishing this need for dialogue. The Phillipian commends Student Council, especially faculty advisor Fernando Alonso, for their innovative organization of this term’s School Congress. We hope that the benefits of the multi-group discussions will be realized and built on. As the current campus atmosphere is hardly favorable for dialogue between faculty and students, it is essential that measures be taken to reduce this disconnection.