Keep Calm and Discourse On

Last Friday, “The New York Times” published a story titled “School Vote Stirs Debate on Girls as Leaders” that incited heated discussion across campus. Many felt that the article inaccurately and distastefully portrayed members of the Andover community and our recent gender discussion. While people are correct in pointing out the shortcomings of the article, we cannot lose sight of the larger discussion of gender inequality at Andover.

The “Times” article has been criticized for providing an incomplete depiction of those interviewed, namely the final four Co-Presidential candidates and some of the founders of the “Feminism is Equality” movement. Many students who read the article immediately began to shift their attention from the greater discussion about gender at Andover to the quality of the reporting.

One common criticism of the article was its impersonal portrayal of our community. However, the “Times” interviewer was on campus for a mere two days as opposed to the eight months that we have spent here during this school year alone. Those mentioned in the article are our peers, not just nominal characters in a national newspaper. They cannot be defined by a few ill-chosen phrases, but are instead defined by the work they have done, the relationships they have formed and the differences they have made here. Two days are simply not enough time to gain a complete picture.

It is also important to remember that while these portrayals have fallen flat, the constructive discussion that has taken place at Andover, though more nuanced and complex than stated in the article, is still a reality—and it should continue to be. Just because “The New York Times” missed the fundamental nature of the discussion by focusing solely on the election doesn’t mean that the conversation has run its course.

It is still our community’s duty to continue talking about female leadership even after we have selected our Co-Presidents because the issue extends beyond this election cycle, beyond the four students who inadvertently became ensnared in the issue. The resolution of such a discussion will affect not only the role of gender in the Andover presidency, but also the role of gender within present and future student bodies.

It’s not up to “The New York Times” to define Andover with portrayals based upon minimal information. We who call Andover home know better—we know Andover is more than just a campus with manicured lawns, and we understand that this issue is something more meaningful than a boy-versus-girl candidate fistfight.

It’s both unproductive and unfair to stop such a purposeful discussion. We cannot allow the trivial details of the “Times” article to knock us off our course towards reshaping the future.

This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVI.