This week, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, asked the Andover community a few questions reflecting the identity of ourselves and our community. In particular, two ideas that he touched upon in his message stood out: What makes us proud to be associated with Phillips Academy and what do we sacrifice for our spot here? A respectful, reassuring community comes to mind. Students trust their friends and truly value the connections they make with their peers. In many school-wide surveys, students have consistently listed peer support as one of the strengths and advantages of our community. An incredible environment for learning also comes to mind. Students are constantly challenging themselves, challenging their friends or being challenged by their teachers to go above and beyond. We value our results but we also value the work we need to complete in order to achieve those results. In the midst of all this good, however, exists some unfortunately negative elements as well. Sometimes we see our confidence and achievements go a bit too far- we shudder at the thought of arrogance or entitlement permeating throughout our community, but we cannot deny that at times, it does exist. So perhaps we need to fully understand why we have chosen to live here, and what are we willing to give up to do so? What are we willing to sacrifice as an institution? At what point does what Murphy refers to as “personal freedoms and comforts” interfere with the integrity of a community? And at what point does the limitation of those seemingly trivial comforts interfere with the integrity of a liberal education? Personal freedom has been a strength of this academy. But right now, we’ve slowly been paring small personal liberties away; liberties that eventually start to add up. Surveillance cameras around Commons seem reasonable enough, but where does it stop? On an educational level, extensive course requirements and “red-flagging” both limit free choice and the freedom which breeds courage- the freedom to fail. To answer your question, Dean Murphy, we’re willing to give up a lot to come here. We give up the comforts of life at home. We give up our car keys and parties, we give up family dinners and easy A’s, we give up privacy and we give up four years of our adolescence. We do so willingly, hoping to find other academic and personal freedoms at PA. It would be a shame to see Andover stop fulfilling its end of the bargain.