A Chance For Dialogue

Last Thursday’s emergency All-School Meeting closely resembled a conversation between Mrs. Chase and the students. Sure, the topic was a little morose, but Mrs. Chase essentially stood eye-to-eye with the student body and reported nothing but the truth. For this reason I applaud the administration’s handling so far of the recent threat to our campus. Besides a swift, appropriate response to the message, the administration also made sure to kill all rumors before they began while still treating the student body like adults. A threat to this campus, no matter how big or small, must be taken seriously. So when the Andover Police concluded that the threat was not credible, it became necessary for the administration to take the situation into its own hands. I for one am glad the administration reacted so strongly by deploying security guards on campus. As a world-class boarding school with commensurate resources, we must come down with a strong hand against this level of danger. The third-party security service is evidence of an elite boarding school seriously dealing with a risk that could have profound effects on safety. I believe the school’s response was completely in line with the world-class status of Phillips Academy. After taking measures to secure the campus, the administration needed to somehow warn the student body of the recent events. I’m sure many possible mediums of communication were proposed; however, the All-School Meeting was by far the most effective way to dispel any rumors that would have inevitably trailed behind an event of this magnitude. By calling everyone into one room, Mrs. Chase ensured that everyone received the same story, the truth. The All-School Meeting was necessary because rumors about a death omen written on campus caused unnecessary chaos among the student body. Luckily, the administration’s reaction prevented that from happening. This is the only major campus occurrence that I can remember about which I have not heard any rumors, or anything that I did not hear during the All-School Meeting. The lack of rumors is also a result of the maturity with which the student body received the news. This brings me to my final point; as students, we often complain that the administration does not treat us as equals in decision-making process, and last week was an obvious example of the administration’s will to reverse that sentiment. Mrs. Chase stood at the podium and relayed all the information that was safe to share – indeed, the exact same information that our parents received later. At that moment, the students and administration stood eye-to-eye. Mrs. Chase explained that she had been working day and night to assure our safety, and she openly stated her plan that allowed us to continue life this Friday as if there were nothing wrong. After Mrs. Chase’s speech, students were allowed to ask questions that she answered candidly. This privilege was something the administration granted the students so that we could become comfortable with the handling of the event. We were expected not to ask selfish or comic questions, and in return Mrs. Chase answered all inquiries as truthfully as possible. For the first time in a long time, we were treated as the mature students we have always wanted to be treated as. The administration safely and sufficiently handled the threat to our campus, and All-School Meeting dispelled any rumors. The student body was treated with respect and maturity. I applaud these decisions; I believe that as students, we have all benefited from the truth, and I hope that the trust between the student body and administration resulting from the meeting will last long after May 30. Declan Cummings is a two-year Upper from Geneva, Ill.