To the Editor:
Little in recent years has served to upset this campus more than the May 26, 2014 faculty vote on changes to the parietal policy. The new ruling, which, among other changes, mandates an open-door/lights-on policy for Seniors, resulted in an entire day of protests, as well as discussions in The Phillipian, classrooms, dorm meetings and on social media.
Also in response, we, the six students signed below, authored a petition speaking against the policy changes, cosigned by 802 students, parents and alumni from the classes of 1980 through 2017. The petition stated what we felt were major consequences to such policy changes that the faculty had perhaps overlooked. In summary, the petition’s points are as follows:
1. The new rules “discourage… candor” in relationships between students and faculty regarding sexual intimacy.
2. The new policies do not reflect the administration’s attempts to advance sexual education on campus, especially in light of faculty comments suggesting that they are considered “separate issues.”
3. Students will have sex regardless; strict rules will only lead to unsafe, unsupervised situations, in which students would face a much greater risk of sexual assault.
4. Some parental opinion cannot serve as the de facto rule for all students on campus.
5. High school is a time for students to explore their gender identity and sexuality. The new policies reinforce the currently heteronormative and cisnormative parietal system and fail to provide for a comfortable environment for self-discovery.
The faculty and administration will be holding a discussion regarding the new policies at the Friday, September 26 faculty meeting. In light of this, we submitted the petition to Dean of Students Paul Murphy on September 24, with a request that it be forwarded to the rest of the faculty prior to the meeting.
In particular, we feel that this petition is essential, because it highlights the disparity between faculty/administrative and student opinion on the issue of parietals, sexual activity and sexual education. Furthermore, the petition underscores the fact that the faculty and administration failed to consult the student body before voting on these changes. Students have thus far searched in vain for an effective platform, because their calls for transparent discussion have been largely ignored.
The policy change runs contrary to students’ expressly stated wish that faculty and administrators move towards more open conversation about sexual activities and sexual education at Andover. Rather, the policies seem to represent a spontaneous about-face of the administration in regards to the more progressive values that a majority of the student body has been advocating for over the past several years.
We hope that this petition will convince faculty and the administration that the rule change will have significant consequences and merits further conversation, if not an eventual re-vote. 808 signatures show that the Phillips Academy community stands in solidarity, and we will stop at nothing until our voice is heard.
Lily Grossbard ’15, Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.
Emma Kukielski ’15
Corinne Singer ’15
Grace Tully ’15, Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.
Daniel Wang ’14
Jaleel D Williams ’15