Deans Collaborate on 2012-2013 Revisions to The Blue Book; Secret Societies Banned

A campus ban on student groups unregistered with the school, including secret societies, was one of the revisions made to the 2012-2013 Blue Book, the school’s outline of rules and expectations for students. Remaining changes addressed community respect guidelines and appropriate areas for skateboard use. The wording in the sections on disciplinary procedures and the school’s Acceptable Internet Use Policy were also edited. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students, the five Cluster Deans for the 2011-2012 school year and the three incoming Cluster Deans met last winter and spring to make the annual revisions to the manual, according to Matthew Hession, Dean of Flagstaff Cluster. “We wanted to actually be clear that when kids create a group they really shouldn’t be doing it in secret or private. There should be a level of oversight by adults, and we’ve asked this of every club–that they have a faculty advisor–so it made sense not to have groups that were outside of that expectation,” said Murphy. A new clause in the Blue Book states, “All student groups must register with the Student Activities Office, CAMD [the Community and Multicultural Development Office] or other relevant administrative office, have at least one faculty advisor and be open to all eligible students… exclusive or secret societies are not permitted. Membership therein could result in discipline.” Concern regarding the existence of secret societies on campus was brought to the deans’ attention after a “lengthy conversation” on the subject at a faculty meeting, according to Murphy. The only mention of secret societies in last year’s Blue Book was in the “Respect for Others” section: “By listening when someone else is speaking in class or the chapel, being considerate of all those dining and working in Paresky Commons or in the library, helping to maintain a safe and clean environment in the dorm and on campus grounds, eschewing secret societies, and considering how behavior affects or influences others, we are showing respect for all members of the Andover community.” This year, “following directions given by an adult in the community” and “using public spaces appropriately” were also added to that list. “We had to explicitly say…. there’s an expectation that [students will] follow the directions of an adult… if a faculty member asks you, for instance, to get out of a tree because you shouldn’t be climbing it. Strangely, that was not in the Blue Book anywhere,” said Murphy. In response to a concern for the safety of skateboarders, this year’s Blue Book prohibits the use of skateboards “on public streets and the area next to the Academy’s power plant.” In previous editions, skateboard use was “not recommended” in these areas, but this year’s edition explicitly forbids their use. The “Discipline Committee” section in the “Major Offenses” chapter now reads, “The DC [Discipline Committee], dean, and cluster faculty work to find responses that relate directly to the offense(s); a previous discipline record invites a stronger response,” instead of: “In all cases, consideration of a student’s past disciplinary history is relevant in reaching the appropriate response.” In the same chapter, the word “lesser” was omitted from the statement: “An accumulation of lesser offenses that have resulted in repeated disciplinary responses or that otherwise clearly indicate an unwillingness or inability to live within school behavioral guidelines.” Finally, the Acceptable Use Policy regarding appropriate Internet usage was edited to read more clearly and smoothly, according to Murphy. Annual changes to rules in the Blue Book are usually made in response to disciplinary cases. “In fairness to students and faculty, we want to be able to feel like [rules are] fairly clear in the Blue Book, and if we feel like [something] wasn’t clear, the school always reserves the right to respond, even if there’s not [already] an explicit rule,” said Murphy. According to Murphy, this year’s edits are minor revisions compared to changes made in previous years, which have included the implementation of a drug and alcohol testing policy and a change to the room visitation policy that allows Juniors to only have room visits with other Juniors.