On Tuesday, two unidentified adolescent males assaulted a Lower female on Bartlet Street as she was returning to campus from downtown Andover.
As the Lower was walking back to campus along Bartlet Street at around 4 or 4:30 p.m., she “heard a couple guys behind me yelling out stuff like ‘catboner’ and just laughing about it,” she wrote in an email to The Phillipian.
“Without turning around, I turned my iPod up, and I could no longer hear them and continued up the hill. About half way up, I was completely, unexpectedly shoved to the floor,” she wrote.
“I smacked my forehead on the pavement. As I turned around I was struck by one of the guys in the face. I blacked out for a quick second and by the time I got back up to identify them, they were long gone,” she continued.
After this incident, the Lower called her friend who assisted her to Isham Health Center, where she was diagnosed with a concussion and bruises on her head and hips.
Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, sent an email to the Phillips Academy community on Tuesday night, stating that the student spent Tuesday night in Isham.
According to the Andover Police log, the student and Phillips Academy Public Safety notified the Andover Police Department, which is currently investigating the attack.
Lieutenant James Hashem of the Andover Police Department said, “We took a report yesterday at about 5 p.m. from a 16-year-old student at Phillips Academy. She was assaulted on Bartlet Street by Wheeler Street.”
“[The student] was assaulted by two teenage boys, and she suffered minor injuries during the assault,” Hashem continued. As of press time, the investigation is ongoing.
Murphy’s email informed the community of the incident and reminded students to be safe when walking downtown
Murphy said, “You have to tell people what’s going on. You can hide behind these things but in reality nobody learns from that.”
Two similar incidents took place this fall. In late September, a group of five teenagers followed two Lower boys to campus, threatened them and threw a rock at them. Soon after, a group of teenagers hit a Junior girl with an egg.
Murphy also said that despite this most recent assault and the two similar assaults that occurred during fall term, he still believes Andover is a safe place.
“Do I feel like kids are unsafe coming and going to town because of these situations? No. If these things keep happening, I will keep feeling less and less safe. I think these incidents make everyone feel unsafe,” said Murphy.
He added, “We have a very open campus, and we allow you great freedom of movement.”
Murphy said the school has no intentions to restrict student freedom in the future and that he hopes to work more closely with public safety to reduce danger.
“I think the Andover Police will be interested in helping us do that,” he said.
“I think the school’s response is that we continue to worry about [student] safety, we always will. We worry about [student] safety with fire, when it’s slippery out, et cetera. There’s a normal level of worry we have for [students] in general,” Murphy continued.
He added, “There are traps everywhere, but this one tends to feel scarier because it doesn’t seem normal. It’s one or two people infringing on the rights of a third person to walk up the street.”
Murphy also said that because Andover is situated on the crossroads of I-93 and Route 145, there are many people unrelated to the town who pass through.
“If you look at the Andover Townsman every week and see police blotter, it’s pretty amazing to see what does go on. It is a suburb, but it’s not Deerfield, Mass. It’s not out in the middle of nowhere,” Murphy said.
The Lower girl wrote, “Obviously, I look at [Bartlet Street] a little differently now, but if I live afraid of walking outside, I think that’s exactly what those guys wanted. I am determined to not let this affect me.”
“What I am more upset about is that it has affected our community and made others feel unsafe,” she continued.