Fewer Rules, Please

Parietals are a very touchy topic at Andover. The slightest mention of changing the policy can excite an active response from the student body. Last week’s Andover Gazette stated that the House Counseling Committee would be discussing the parietal system, looking at the current parietal rules. Though this discussion lead to few changes, the committee may suggest making the rules harsher. There should not be any major changes to the parietal rules. If anything, there should be adjustments to the trivial details of the current rules. The Gazette said that, “Several faculty members have suggested that we review our current opposite sex room-visiting policy (especially as it applies to ninth-grade students) and consider potential changes. We noted that any proposed changes should be brought before the full faculty for discussion.” It seems typical that faculty members would show some concern about this topic, seeing that many of them are house counselors themselves. These “potential changes” can vary from the timing of parietals with odd permissible hours and days to parietals involving students of different grades. The biggest problem with parietals is the formality of it all! As a house counselor, one’s responsibility is to act as a second parent to boarders, but parietals can create some undesired tensions. Many students who have gotten legal parietals can agree that their house counselors in the process are in fact, awkward, though many house counselors try to make the process as easy as possible because parietals are not always about intimate relationships or sex. Isabella Uria ’10 commented, “Whenever I have wanted to have a parietal in Bartlett, the house counselors have always been cool about it. They don’t ask weird questions or anything.” Maybe guys’ dorms are more relaxed in the parietal process than girls’ dorms. Nonetheless, not all house counselors are like the ones that Isabella has encountered. During the House Counseling Committee’s discussion about parietals, it was noted that concerns have been raised about Juniors’ parietal privleges. The question asked time and time again was whether they should have parietal privileges at all instead of gaining the privilege in the Winter Term. Some students may disagree, but it should be the administration’s right to decide when Andover students are old or mature enough to have people of the opposite sex in their room. Henry Metro ’10 gave his opinion: “I think that parietals are stupid. I would rather have people in their own rooms doing their private business than finding them having sex outdoors. For right now at this school, it is necessary for the parietal rules [to exist], to a certain extent.” There are major liability issues with legal age, statutory rape and similar concerns like that. The unwise decision would be to abolish parietal rules all together. However, the petty rules like the specific number of degrees that an Upper can have his or her door open during a parietal are absurd. Though the parietal rules protect legal age issues from becoming problems, there is room for improvement with such specifics. Dacone Elliot ’08 said, “The whole angled door thing makes no sense because if you were passing by a room and you saw a flip-flop in the doorway, you would know that there was a parietal going on, and you would act silly. I know that I would bust in and make it awkward.” Hallmates who are usually close friends can act silly and loudly try to “investigate” why the lights are out in a room. Even excluding the sexuality discussions that take place before parietals are allowed to begin, parental pressures and liability issues are still problems. The conversation also touched on room visiting in upperclassmen dorms for underclassmen. Brenna Liponis ’10 said, “If you are an upperclassman, you should be able to have people of the opposite sex in your room without getting parietals”. It is up to the House Counseling Committee along with the faculty to decide. What rules go and which ones stay? “It is the person’s own room. They should choose whoever they want to be in their room,” stated Ram Narayan ’10. However, our lives are in the hands of Phillips Academy. You know how you cannot breathe without a house counselor knowing where you are doing it? The parietal system is subject to a similar degree of control.