Parental Concern Fuels Junior Parietal Dialogues

In response to parental concern over Phillips Academy’s parietal policy, the House Counselor Committee discussed the rules for Juniors, according to Kristen Johnson, Instructor in Biology, House Counselor in Bancroft Hall and a member of the committee. Johnson said that such a discussion would eventually involve the entire faculty. However, she said, “Nothing is happening anytime soon.” Kathy Birecki, Athletics Trainer and member of the committee, said, “[The parietal discussion] is a non-issue… Our committee doesn’t make decisions about the current parietal rules; we discuss related topics that are brought to our attention.” Marlys Edwards, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said, “There’s nothing coming out of this [meeting]… There was one meeting when we talked about it, and I’m pretty sure we’re done… Any change would have to come before the faculty and be a faculty vote… We know that’s not happening this year.” The discussion pertained only to parietals for ninth graders, with the main focus on whether to postpone parietals to Spring Term. According to the Blue Book, Juniors are allowed to have parietals after they take part in a “parietal talk” with their house counselors. But Edwards said there should be “truth in advertising. If we say that we’re going to start parietals in Winter Term and then we don’t finish the discussions until the end of the term, why not start them in spring?” Chris Calkins ’11, a resident in Rockwell House, thinks the parietal rules are fair, though inconvenient. He described the parietal rules “basically as strict as they can get.” According to Calkins, Rockwell residents are currently not allowed to have parietals, even though the Blue Book states that parietals begin for Juniors during the Winter Term. Margot Pinckney ’11 agreed that the parietal policy is overblown. “We had a three-series dorm meeting… I think [the parietal rules] are understandable, but a little absurd… Not a lot of freshmen need parietals, so the rules are kind of invalid because they’re not used.” Lynx Mitchell ’10 is against the idea of parietals altogether. “I don’t think [adults] should regulate our sexual relations.” Bijan Torabi ’10 agreed with Mitchell. “I think we should just get rid of parietals all-together, definitely for Seniors and probably for Uppers too.” Rebekah Wickens ’09, a new Upper, sees illegal parietals as an issue. As a solution to the problem, she suggested “better hours during the week because it seems like the hours are really specific ones that some people can’t use.” She proposed the end of the school day until first sign in as an alternative. Dave Holliday ’08 agreed that changes should be made to make the rules more convenient for students. He said that there should be specific hours when house counselors are required to be in the dorm so students can have parietals. Holliday believes that adults on campus are often more concerned than they need to be with regard to parietals. “People sometimes assume the worst…But even so [the parietal rules at Phillips Academy] are more liberal than they are at other schools,” he said. Dylan Rhodes ’10, however, does not believe that changes to the rule would alleviate the issue. He said, “I don’t think that if they changed the parietal rules it would do very much because there are always going to be illegal parietals.” On the other hand, Emily Hutchenson-Tipton ’10 said, “I think the main reason that [the school has] parietals is partially that they’re concerned but also that I don’t think a lot of parents would let their children come here if they didn’t have any regulations over that sort of thing.”