Over the past two weeks, Phillips Academy has challenged important principles of our progressive education regarding freedom of speech. This week, The Phillipian reports that administrators asked Michael Kontaxis ’11 to remove his film, “Live Green or Die Hard,” from YouTube because it “crossed a line that did not reflect the values of this boarding school.” And what exactly are those values? With this move, the school seems more concerned with its image than with the student’s right to express himself – one of the values that allows this institution to flourish as a center of free thought. Our actions, as students, and later as alumni, are all tied to the school. We realize this; but we came to Phillips Academy in part for the very student freedoms that other schools don’t offer, including our right to push artistic limits. The Phillipian is entirely uncensored before going to press, but other student endeavors on our campus – and now in the public forums of the internet – are not as fortunate. We do not take this freedom for granted; it is one of the greatest responsibilities and opportunities to learn from experience at this school. Andover should allow students to push their limits in all things. A fundamental part of our education is learning where the line is, if only through experience. And by drawing the line with the school’s image in mind, Phillips Academy is putting public relations ahead of students’ growth and development. While remaining aware of sensitive sensibilities, we must not allow fear of backlash to restrict our freedoms as students. Phillips Academy should embrace Kontaxis’s film as the product of an open-minded campus filled with creative individuals who produce art and make bold statements fearlessly. The Phillipian supports all students seeking to express themselves – in print, music, online or in film. We urge the administration to take the time to define the terms and conditions of Andover students’ involvement in expression before jumping to conclusions which will set the precedent for years to come.
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