Last Sunday, Student Council hosted a panel in the Mural Room of Paresky Commons on the changes to room-visiting policies approved by the faculty last spring. Featuring four students and three faculty members, the hour-long event focused on both the current and proposed policies, as well as possible changes to sexual health education at Andover.
The room was filled wall-to-wall. While over 60 students attended, there was a noticeable lack of faculty members present.
We recognize that the faculty have been holding meetings to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed changes to the parietal system and that perhaps it was an inconvenient time. We appreciate that some teachers have taken time in class to discuss sexual intimacy and their opinions on the parietal rules with students, and we especially thank the three faculty panelists — Jennifer Elliott, Dead of Abbot Cluster, Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students for Personal and Community Education, and Andrea Orben, Health Educator — for their time, attention and care for the students.
The conversations between faculty and students, however, have largely remained mutually exclusive. This was a missed opportunity for faculty to engage meaningfully with students on issues that have engaged and split our community since last spring. The administration has indicated a greater willingness to hear student opinion on the issue, but this development was both an affront to the members of Student Council who worked diligently for months to organize and provide a space for constructive discourse with both sides represented, as well as a disheartening display that was contrary to the message the faculty has presented thus far.
The proposed changes to the room-visiting system have been met with strong resistance from the student body; a little over 60 percent of student respondents to The Phillipian’s survey last spring were against the proposed changes. The administration’s decision not to consult members of Student Council or inform the student body of the impending vote before the decision was announced became an especially sore point. Students came to believe the faculty voted without the students’ best interests in mind, and the absence of faculty members at the forum did little to clear this doubt.
If faculty choose not to attend student-hosted forums voluntarily, students should be allowed to present their perspectives at mandatory faculty meetings. At the heart of the proposed changes to the parietal system lies a common goal: the establishment of an environment that encourages happy, healthy and educated sexual relationships for all students. This goal cannot be achieved unless there is cohesive and enthusiastic cooperation from both students and faculty.
These editorials represent the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII.