Due Discourse

Since Paul Murphy began his term as Dean of Students, he has sought to institute some controversial changes related to student life. Most recently, Murphy decided to cancel the team skits at pep rallies before consulting with students. He later retracted his decision after holding a meeting with Blue Key Heads and the Athletic Advisory Board, which consists of varsity team captains. Team skits will not be cancelled for this term’s Andover/Exeter pep rally. Instead, they will be screened for appropriateness. This solution is a fair compromise addressing the concerns of offensive skits, but the method in which Murphy made his decision raises questions. Though concern over the pep rally skits was legitimate—the Boys Hockey skit is still fresh in the memory of some offended students, parents and teachers—the solution he initially decided upon came about without due discourse. Last Wednesday, Murphy met with Blue Key Heads and the Athletic Advisory Board to explain his decision. But the conversation turned into a dialogue that should have occurred from the start. Community conversation is a valuable prerequisite to campus changes related to student life. An example of effective community discourse can be seen in Associate Dean of Students Carlos Hoyt’s efforts to reevaluate the first All-School Meeting last spring. While Hoyt’s approach to opening conversation ignited strong emotions, we appreciate his courage in presenting changes for community discussion. Hoyt’s concerns over All-School Meeting were similar to Murphy’s concerns over the nature of the pep rally: both considered the question of appropriate behavior in our community. The manner in which they approached and expressed these concerns, however, could not have been more different. While Hoyt opened the door to widespread campus dialogue, Murphy’s initial decision was made privately, without direct student conversation. We commend the Blue Key Heads and team captains for speaking strongly enough on behalf of the students in a meeting that could have spelled the end of team skits at the pep rally. Successful change can arise from deliberate discourse. In the past, student life discussion has been public: conversations related to sign-in times were held over the course of several campus-wide meetings. Thank you Mr. Murphy for keeping an open mind, and we hope in the future that students and faculty can be involved in similarly constructive discussions. This editorial represents the views of the Editorial Board CXXXII.