To the Editor:
On October 5, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, sent an email to the community regarding a clarification of dance policies. In his email, he repeated that students are required to “dance with each other in a manner that communicates self-respect” and clarified that “sexually suggestive dancing, including but not limited to grinding is not allowed” and “faculty chaperones may ask students who are not adequately clothed to return to their dorm or home to cover up before entering the dance.”
We applaud the administration for taking steps to protect our well-being, but we believe that the answer to the underlying problems that inspired this clarification lies in education—not a blanket rule. Building off of this conversation, we ask for a broader and more comprehensive education program surrounding sex, relationships, gender and sexuality, and more open and honest conversation about respect within the community.
The PA sex education program is limited to one 45-minute PE class and one hour-long PACE session regarding sex and relationships. New Uppers, Seniors and Post-Graduates do not have the opportunity to take either of these two classes. “Parietal talks” vary by dorm and exclude day students. These sporadic and narrow approaches cannot comprehensively cover anything as complicated as sex, relationships, gender and sexuality, nor do they help us form universal definitions of respect within our diverse community.
We urge Andover to utilize the resources that we already have. PE, PACE, house counselors, proctors, prefects, advisors and “parietal talks” all have the potential to foster more open and extensive dialog.
We also turn to students. Students in positions of influence, especially prefects, proctors and older students, must encourage and set examples of open and honest conversation. We should be encouraged to discuss sexuality in a healthy way that acknowledges its complexity and discontinues the use of language that links sexuality with self-respect, morality or competition.
The new dance policy merely serves as plaster to cover the cracks in our community. Pushing student sexuality out of the public eye will not combat negative sex culture—open dialogue will. We are not asking the administration to condone or encourage sexual activity. We want the opportunity to talk about the larger cultural issues at hand in open, honest, comprehensive and healthy ways.
Emma Crowe ’15
Rhaime Kim ’15
Thea Rossman ’15
Kory Stuer ’15