Andover has a way of reminding its student population what it means to be an Andover student. The school has always granted its student body a high degree of autonomy; students are responsible for everything from waking themselves up in the morning, to doing homework, to maintaining strong relationships with all the others around them. Left to their own devices, Andover students regularly prove that this trust is deserved and this independence earned.
In the past week, however, a trying event has reminded students that the consistency of trust here at Andover is not guaranteed; each and every day requires the care, effort and consideration of each student to maintain.
The lists posted in GW rating and judging members of the Class of 2015 on their appearances or sexuality should remind the student body that even the most careless prank, malicious or otherwise, can have a profound effect on this campus. Andover saw the ripple effects of these lists on a human level, as Juniors sought support from peers and mentors and as administrators and adults reacted.
In cases of discipline here, public outcry often stems from the arbitrary or perhaps unexplained nature of punishment handed down from the Discipline Committee system. In this case, however, student discomfort hasn’t stemmed from the perpetrator’s summary punishment by the administration for breaking a major rule.
In fact, few are worrying about how the person(s) responsible will be punished.
The Admission office often recalls that Andover students are, first and foremost, nice. This idea permeates campus, and students take a great deal of comfort in knowing that they can rely on their peers to be, at the very least, considerate. In this circumstance, the student body has taken issue with this demonstration that Andover students possess the ability to be unkind.
When an act as malicious as this posting of petty but damaging lists occurs, it shakes the community’s confidence in this idea of common kindness and, more importantly, creates separations within the student body. This past week, students have been divided as they debated the nature of the lists, argued about their origins and their contents and considered with the very serious emotional toll they have taken on many of their peers.
Some have argued that the lists ought to be dismissed as a youthful folly and have suggested that the best way to proceed would be to end public discussion on this subject altogether. They argue that whoever is responsible for the lists almost certainly posted them for incendiary value; the more people that talk about them, the more the lists’ fire is fanned and the more the responsible party’s goals are satisfied.
But this view fails to address the larger issue at hand.
When an institution ignores an open wound for the sake of avoiding a painful healing process, it misses out on a valuable learning experience. To move on, Andover needs to discuss the lists in a responsible, mature manner, particularly for the benefit of the Class of 2015, still deep in the adjustment to boarding school life.
While the process may indeed be painful, the benefits far outweigh the cost.
This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Board CXXXV.