Annual School Congress Deliberates Dormitory Regulations

Students and faculty members gathered to discuss the differences in the implementation of policies and rules between in dorms at the annual School Congress on November 14, 2011.

According to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, the entire faculty and approximately 275 student leaders were invited to attend the Congress, which was organized by the Student Council and the Faculty Advisory Committee (AdCom).

According to MJ Engel ’13, Upper Class Representative, Student Council originally intended the Congress to focus its discussion on the discrepancies between rules across the different dorms.

Student Council decided to broaden the topic to include other issues of residential life. In addition to disparities between dorms, they discussed issues surrounding sign-in policies, room searches, restriction and the sanctuary policy.

Murphy said that the Congress was able to reach consensus on most issues, including room searches and disparities between dorms.

The Congress agreed that it was necessary for the school to reserve the right to conduct room searches and acknowledged that the searches were carried out infrequently enough that they do not seem to threaten the privacy of students.

The Congress also believed that dorms could not be expected to enforce policies to exactly the same degree and recognized that there would be, within reason, some disparity across different dorms.

Murphy plans to bring up unresolved issues remaining from School Congress, including sign-in times and restriction as a means of punishment, in future faculty meetings.

Murphy said, “I never think we’re going get anything done specifically on that Monday night. It’s going to be the start of a conversation.”

Uday Singh ’12, President of Student Council, hopes to tackle unresolved issues in faculty conversations at the Deans’ Table or at another forum open to members of the community.

“[The Congress’ purpose] is to get people thinking, and a lot of times, there’s not a lot of thinking about things that we accept as the norms of Andover,” he said.

Katie Hebb ’12 said that she thought the broadness of the discussion resulted in vague and less productive discourse.

She added that the presence of some of her previous house counselors made it difficult to have a completely candid discussion.

According to Singh, Student Council tried to increase underclass representation at this year’s Congress by inviting underclassmen dorm reps.

Singh said that encouraging student attendance was challenging this year.

“A lot of students would rather do their homework or their essay rather than contribute to a discussion which may actually affect their future in the school. So, for us, it’s always a problem getting them to come [to the Congress],” he said.

Engel said that attendance was low because invitations were sent to students only two days before the Congress.

Attendees were initially split into student-faculty groups of around 15 members. Each group engaged in separate discussions led by a designated student and faculty leader.

To conclude the Congress, the groups reconvened in Kemper Auditorium, where group leaders presented their group’s conclusions to the rest of the Congress.

Club leaders, cluster presidents, proctors, prefects, CAMD leaders, community service leaders, captains of varsity teams, dorm representatives and PACE seniors represented the student body at the Congress.

Scott Livingston contributed to reporting.