Two Lowers Harassed by Local Teenagers Just Outside Campus

On Monday, a group of five high-school aged teenagers followed two Lowers to campus, flinging verbal threats and a rock at the two PA students. According to the Lowers, the group, whom neither of the students recognized, followed the Andover students by foot up along Bartlett Street. The initial interactions between the students and the group were limited to verbal sarcastic exchanges. But the situation quickly escalated. “One of the kids threw a rock at my back. I turned around and asked him if he thought he was being funny,” said one of the students. After the student was hit by the rock, the other student said that one of the members of the group made a racist comment. According to the student hit by the rock, the group of boys continued to follow the Lowers until the group entered a house, located near Whitney House on the Abbot campus. The student said that one of the kids threatened to shoot him as the group walked into the house. “By the time he came back [we] had already run back to campus,” he said. Upon returning to campus, the two discussed the incident with many of their dormmates, who told the two to bring the issue to their house counselor’s attention. “We weren’t sure whether or not we wanted to report the incident, so it took a few hours for the information to be processed by our house counselors, the Dean of Students Office, PAPS [Phillips Academy Public Safety] and the Andover Police Department,” said the student. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, addressed the incident in an email sent to the Andover community on Tuesday night. According to Murphy, any time an incident involves race or sex, Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) contacts the Andover Police Department. The Andover Police are currently investigating the incident. Lieutenant James Hashem of the Andover Police Department said, “The first step is to gather the facts and figure out what took place, and right now, we’re in the middle of that process. Once we figure out the actual events, we’ll take appropriate measure to address them.” Murphy said incidents of this magnitude have not been historically prevalent on campus. Although the teenage boys involved in this incident and their respective schools have not been identified, Murphy acknowledged a general tension between Phillips Academy and Andover High School students. “I think there’s natural tension between the schools due to misinformation. Students from both schools make assumptions about one another and this misunderstanding fuels the entire situation,” Murphy said. “There just happen to be two high schools in this town. Work should be done to break down the barriers of misunderstanding. It would probably go a long way,” he continued. The extended period of delay between the incident and the official report made the investigation difficult for the police. “Monday’s incident was not reported to us for almost eight or nine hours. The length between when the incident occurred and the actual report of the incident obviously presents issues for [the police] when we’re trying to investigate,” said Hashem. Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety, stressed the importance of reporting an incident soon after its occurrence. “We have to know about incidents immediately after they happen. If we receive information quickly enough then we’re able to act upon it,” Conlon said. “We’re often called too long after events have taken place. That’s why we’re constantly out patrolling,” he continued.