Examining the Investigation

We’re now more than a week removed from the DC’s that rocked our campus. A week removed from drug busts. A week removed from a controversial cell phone search. A week removed from the Andover rumor mill going double duty. And, hopefully, a week removed from the haze of anger that clouds intelligent thought. Rewind to the first days, after news of the ‘drug bust’ had spread through campus. Talk of imminent dismissals abounded and the phrase, “police assistance” came up with far too much frequency. The rumored number of students facing possible DC escalated quickly to somewhere near 40. Students were getting ready to say goodbye to their friends before they even knew what had happened. This widespread misinformation quickly engendered even more ill will towards the administration — somthingthat any high school campus already has plenty of. The thing is, though, all of this discontent is based on faulty information. That’s not to say that the information is entirely wrong–rumors never are. It has just been inflated to a larger-than-life size. The fact is that roughly 20 students were investigated by the administration for alleged rule infractions involving marijuana and alcohol. As confirmed by Mrs. Sykes at last week’s All-School Meeting, four students have permanently left the Academy, one by dismissal. Fifteen DC hearings have occurred in total. These investigations began with only two students being investigated for dealing marijuana. Critics of the administration’s handling of the recent disciplinary committee situations do make some valid arguments. The discontented believe that the way in which the administration searched a cell phone to acquire information implicating a majority of the students undergoing disciplinary action was, in my opinion, unethical. In last week’s Phillipian, Murphy said on the subject, “If the person is dealing drugs…there’s a legal obligation to look at these issues for the betterment of the community and the kids. We were in a reasonable place to look at the texts and then ask questions of those kids. Those texts could have meant nothing, but for every one of the kids we talked with, it was real stuff. We found out information that was troubling.” Some commentary articles last week reflected this sentiment of discord. Speaking of the situation in general and more specifically the use of text messages to incriminate students, Stella Girkins writes, “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.” Some students felt that the admininistration adhered too strictly to the Blue Book during the investigation. It is the administration job, however, to enforce the rules in the Blue Book to the best of their ability. How can it adhere too closely to the Blue Book? The overall student opinion of the situation is not a favorable one. In her article, Stella Girkins put it simply, “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.” Discipline is a part of any school and in some cases students will be reprimanded-whether with censure, probation, or dismissal. Dean Murphy did nothing wrong. He followed the Blue Book through all parts of the disciplinary process. At the same time, he would be wise to keep the student response that has been so forceful thus far at the forefront of his mind. In a position that is by nature under scrutiny, he will be analyzed even more closely this year. The students are watching. Zach Merchant is a two-year Lower from Lebanon, PA.