Topic of Student-Faculty Relations Prompts Talks at School Congress

Andover faculty and students met at Student Congress on Monday night to share perspectives on topics including communication. At the meeting, students and faculty members split up into small groups for a free-flowing discussion. Class representatives moderated each group, but the talks did not follow a specific format. Conversations centered heavily on improving communication between Andover faculty and students. Issues discussed included ways for students to build trust in the administration and methods help foster faculty and student relationships. Faiyad Ahmad ’10, School President, said, “One of the main purposes of School Congress is to increase interaction between students and faculty outside of the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for both [groups] to understand the perspectives of one another.” Julianna Wessels ’12, one of the Lower Representatives, said to improve faculty-student relationships, students need to take initiative and get to know their teachers, and teachers need to be open and friendly to students. Wessels also said Student Council should play a key role in filling the communication gap between the two groups. Several groups focused on current policies regarding academic honesty and the possibility of introducing an honor code system to the school. Andrew Lee ’10 said, “Cheating, trust, and honesty are topics that are constantly brought up by the administration, but are issues that students really have no say in. A living, breathing document, such as an honor code would reestablish student belief and support in the system.” Mark Efinger, Instructor in Theatre and Dance, said, “We trust the kids to be forthright and honest but also to protect each other.” “We don’t think we are ready to put the students in a situation where they, for example, need to choose between following the honor code or protecting a friend,” he said. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, said, “School Congress would have been even more productive if more students had participated. Also, a broader cross section of school leaders such as dorm representatives and day student representatives would have added to the richness of the discussion.” Michael Yoon ’10, Head of Andover Korean Society, received an invitation to participate in Student Congress as a CAMD club head but Yoon declined to attend. “It is going to take more than a School Congress to get anything done. If the administration is serious about implementing change in the system, they should reach out in a way that seriously sparks debate between students and the administration in a long-term fashion,” he said. Efinger said, “Students at Phillips Academy believe that teachers are satisfied with the current status of the school, when in fact, we are not. It is just that we teachers cannot do anything about it when there is no definite solution.” Sirus Han ’13, Junior Representative, said, “I think the meeting on Monday was a huge success. It is useful to have meetings like School Congress because the discussions help Student Council get a better sense of what students think.” Ijeoma Ejiogu ’11, one of the three Upper Representatives, said she felt separating faculty into groups based on their roles at the school since different positions require different types of communication with students. Student Council organizes School Congress every term. Every event is structured differently, with formats ranging from question and answer sessions to small group discussions. Former Head of School, Donald McNamar, introduced School Congress 20 years ago to encourage communication between Andover’s student body and faculty.