Kaleidoscope Initiative to Begin in Fall

Varying political perspectives will resonate through the Chapel during All-School Meeting next fall after the Kaleidoscope Program was unveiled this past week. Under the Kaleidoscope Program, two speakers with contrasting perspectives will speak on a common issue at consecutive All-School Meetings. “There has always been an expression of concern from students, parents and alumni that we tend to be very liberal with the types of speakers we engage with during All School Meetings,” said Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students and All School Meeting coordinator, According to Hoyt, although Phillips Academy is an apolitical institution it has typically featured more liberal speakers than conservative speakers in the past. “With this program, we hope to correct this imbalance and offer an additional perspective,” said Hoyt. “It is our hope that students will be open minded in receiving both perspectives. It is our hope that after listening to these different perspectives, a student will be able to synthesize his or her own unique perspective and go beyond the familiar.” Hoyt said that the Dean of Students office will select the speakers based on student responses to a survey sent out this week. According to Hoyt, the criteria for selection will include relevance, knowledge and speaking ability. Suggestions for topics speakers could discuss have flooded administrators inboxes. Students cited abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, global justice, orthodox Islam and the legalization of marijuana as key topics of interest. “We can obviously only feature one at a time, but one of the nice byproducts of asking people for input is that we get a sense of what’s important to students out there,” said Hoyt. Before initiating the Kaleidoscope program, Hoyt worked extensively with Barbara Chase, Head of School, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and John Rogers, Dean of Studies. “I cringe and begin to sweat when I see myself being portrayed as the creator of something. Things like this program come about by virtue of collective community discussion,” said Hoyt. “The best ideas in this place come from the students, and I want to attribute a large portion of the credit to the student body. The idea of implementing this program was discussed largely because of student voices.“ Student responses from different political clubs on campus shared mixed reactions to the announcement. Julianna Aucoin, President of Democrat’s Club, hoped that the addition of a new perspective will promote greater political activism on campus. Aucoin said, “Recent All School Meetings have been lacking in truly thought provoking dialogue and the new program will surely broaden our views,” said Aucoin. “What better way to rally the Democrats than a Tea Party speaker? What would get the conservatives more active than a flaming liberal?” she continued. Some students expressed skepticism about the speaker selection process. Richard Levy ’13 said, “I have doubts about the legitimacy of a liberal institution inviting conservative speakers. Just how conservative will the selected speakers be and what are the selection criteria?” Edward Mole ‘13 said, “Its hard to believe that the conservative speakers chosen will be of high quality, when some of the recent liberal speakers have been so lacking. Regardless, I think a change like this is long overdue. We might be a minority, but conservatives deserve representation in All School Meetings as well.” Hoyt said that the Dean of Students office is also considering inviting prominent political candidates to come and speak during next year’s national election cycle. “I am excited that this is student generated. I’m really excited about the input that has already come in from students and faculty. And I’m super excited to see how this thing will play out,“ said Hoyt