Open The Doors

Parietals: a sensitive topic, yet an important facet of student life. Our ability to visit dorm rooms of peers of the opposite sex is a specific priviledge intentionally allotted to us by the administration. There are, of course, several rules in relation to these room visitations, most of which are understandable; however, one rule in particular just doesn’t seem to fit. Every year, the administration at Andover withholds parietals between the beginning of the school year until a vaguely defined date in the “early fall” (for some upperclassman students this may be as late as the third week of October). This decision to postpone parietals, especially for returning students, at the beginning of the school year is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive. The delay between the start of the school year and the beginning of Blue Book-sanctioned room visits only serves as an incentive for “illegal” parietals among students who would otherwise ask their house counselors before having a parietal. One might argue that the proper dorm meetings about room visits must be held before allowing parietals to ensure that all students have a clear understanding of the room visitation rules. For students new to Andover, this makes perfect sense. New students are unlikely to know the specifics of these rules (even if these rules are covered in the Blue Book), and so house counselors should take the time to make sure these students have a thorough understanding of what is expected of them during a parietal. These dorm meetings, however, remain relatively unchanged each year, and thus could be sufficiently replaced for returning students with a brief reminder similar to the ones returning students receive about car permissions and day excuses. If returning students were to forget any rules pertaining to parietals, they could easily ask a proctor or house counselor for clarification, refer to the visitation information printout posted in every dorm or read the Blue Book for a full and definitive explanation. While the delay in permitted parietals might be the administration’s attempt to allow the student body to settle in and understand the specific policy, it just pushes students to have “illegal” parietals. For those students who have already been briefed on parietal rules, the weeks before parietals are allowed seem encumbered by an unnecessary restriction on student life. Most students, if not required to wait upwards of a month to have a “legal” parietal, would opt to ask their house counselors’ permission for a room visit. Thus, the administration’s attempt to encourage an understanding of room visitation rules in fact provokes students to fracture those very conventions, an occurrence which suggests a reevaluation of the practicality of the delay on “legal” parietals is in order. Monique Hartemink is a two-year Upper from Katy, TX.