Broken Trust

Consider the investigation announced at All -School Meeting. Many of the students involved were incriminated by a phone — a jumble of plastic and wires with the ability to alter lives. Going through the text messages was not only a morally questionable action, but a completely unnecessary one, as well. The aim of the school’s drug and alcohol policy is, as the Blue Book puts it, to “care sensibly for the health of one’s own body.” The use of a student’s phone to incriminate others would be understandable if the drug in question was a hard drug such as cocaine, but it was not, it was marijuana – a drug which has already been decriminalized in the state of Massachusetts and on the ballot for legalization in California. In the next decade, marijuana could be legal in this very state and perhaps a mere censure at this school. The conscience of America is evolving. Marijuana, while dangerous to our bodies, may not be as destructive as alcohol, and, like anything, must be enjoyed responsibly. It is time for the conscience of the school and the administration to evolve as well and understand how our perception of drugs and alcohol is changing. Frankly, the recent disciplinary action is cannabis. Nobody is going to die. The worst that may happen is that someone gets a bad case of the munchies, falls asleep over a textbook, and wakes up ill-prepared for English class the following day. The intensity of the current investigation is inappropriate considering the rule violations discovered. Furthermore, over the past week enormous rifts have formed across campus between students and the administration, the faculty and the administration as well as among peers and coworkers. The lack of immediately available information about the investigation has caused skepticism and confusion. Initially, teachers were informed that many students may be distraught and that something large was happening on campus, but little else. Various rumors have emerged including: Students being interrogated are removed from their peers; Students being told that unless they revealed exactly who was involved in their situation they would be immediately dismissed from the school; and students’ DCs being postponed in order to cross-examine students and compare stories. This is what some have construed as a conscious attempt to dismiss as many students as possible. Nobody knows what is truly happening or who is next until their best friend’s seat in science class is empty. Since the start of the investigation, the administration has instilled the fear that they have genuine evidence in students. They have scared students into admitting involvement prior and often unrelated deeds.Feelings of despair and contempt have permeated our campus this week. Just two weeks ago, the deans were pushing for kids to sanctuary their friends in order to help them, but since the investigation began, the sanctuary policy has been suspended. Everybody has questions, but nobody knows who they can trust. Students are even beginning to refer to it as the Murphy era, a morbid reference to the terror of the McCarthy era. Phillips Academy is supposed to be a community. Our friends that we make here are our brothers and sisters, and, according the papers that we sign upon entrance to this community, the administration is our parents. The way that the administration has treated the students so far is psychological torture, not to mention that it has torn apart our very own Andover families. And still, students are expected to maintain their classes and and commitments while theirs or friends’ lives dissolve around them. Overall, this process has offered the students a glimpse into what many now believe is the real nature of the school – corrupt, dishonest, and malicious. Personally, I believe it will be impossible to restore the trust in the Andover community not only in the next year, but until the graduation of the class of 2012 at the earliest. Just as beautiful thriving trees rot from the inside out, in our very own beautiful thriving campus, a disease has just begun to spread. Stella Girkins is a four-year Senior from Garberville, CA.