An Overprotective Policy

On Monday, April 21, Dean of Students Marlys Edwards sent out an email informing students of a new campus policy regarding off-campus house visiting. Initially, the policy greatly surprised me. This policy stipulates that boarding students will not be able to visit the homes of day students, even if they are within the confines of the town of Andover, unless they have permission from a house counselor or cluster dean. The policy also stated that an adult that is at the day student’s home must confirm with the house counselor or cluster dean that the boarding student is invited. In the email, Dean Edwards stated that the policy was enacted so that Andover students would be safer while off-campus. Such justification is very similar to other rules in the Blue Book. These rules, such as those that involve car permission, day excuses and sign-in times are, in some cases, common sense, and are created because the administration feels that they are in the best interests of the student body. I wanted to know exactly why the school decided to act so quickly and swiftly with this policy change. In an interview, Dean Edwards said that there was a combination of reasons that brought about the policy. It had apparently been presented to and circulated amongst the faculty for some time already. The policy had been so saturated throughout the community that some house counselors had emailed Ms. Edwards stating that they had already thought such a rule was in place. This new rule and its associated consequences are supposed to resemble day excuses. The reasoning behind it, as stated by Ms. Edwards, is that the school did not allow students to go to day students’ homes outside of Andover without day excuses. Thus, the school should also put the same kind of restrictions on the houses within the town of Andover. I am mildly disappointed in the way the administration put the new policy into place. Although I am certain that the pros and cons of implementing such a policy were carefully weighed, I would like to point out several consequences of the new rule that we need to recognize. First, this is a classic example of how rules, although they only effect a small fraction of students on campus, will probably make a very large impact on the student body as a whole. In the past year, Ms Edwards told me, there were several events at nearby day student houses that had no adult supervision. I came to Andover hoping that I would be among a community that provided a mixed atmosphere of academic success, socializing and athletic excellence. Even though some of the students are here to excel academically, there is a small fraction of students that are here merely for the enticing freedom that life at boarding school may offer. Those people who take advantage of this freedom, for the sake of having a good time — perhaps drinking or otherwise breaking the rules — ruin it for the others. While this is the unfortunate reality, I had hoped that the people at Andover would use the freedom that the school gave them for “cleaner” fun. Second, the creation of this rule may damage the student-administration relationship. We need to build a bridge of communication between the student body and the administration and reinforce and strengthen it with trust. I was shocked when I first read the email, probably because of the abruptness of the announcement. In retrospect, I think I over-reacted, especially in writing the first draft of this article. After careful proofreading and the interview with Ms. Edwards, I calmed down a good bit and wrote this article. In the future, I hope that the school can have a better process in breaking news to students. I have enjoyed my time visiting day students before this policy was enacted. Once, I went to a day student’s house with some of my friends on a Saturday night. We watched a Disney movie, ate brownies and had a lot of fun. Now, enjoying simple get-togethers like this one may be made more difficult with this new policy in place, if only because house counselors aren’t always available to okay visits. My friends and I must face the results of the irresponsibility of others. We should learn from their mistakes, but school policy should not be changed as a result of the actions of a few. Paul Chan is a two-year Lower.