The Andover-Exeter rivalry is an integral part of the Andover experience. We at Andover like to think of ourselves as inherently and unquestionably better than our “Friends to the North,” with their Harkness-table-centered courses and strict dress code. This past weekend, Andover-Exeter weekend, was a tribute to this 136-year-old tradition: students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate this rivalry on the sports fields. Yet, while the Andover-Exeter tradition has promoted healthy competition and school spirit, there has been little student-to-student interaction and collaboration between the two communities.
This summer, Andover and Exeter students participated in the Niswarth summer service program in India. While other programs in the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) used to work with Exeter, our current relationship with our peer school stands primarily as a detached rivalry. The majority of our student body is missing an opportunity to learn from similarly motivated students who are part of an institution that shares many of the same values as our own, such as “Non Sibi” and “Finis Origine Pendet.”
A meeting between both Andover and Exeter student community service coordinators this past weekend serves as a good example of how these interactions can be mutually beneficial. Students discussed the differences between community service opportunities. Unlike Andover’s community service programs, Exeter’s programs function as clubs with board positions. Exeter’s community service clubs have better student involvement and outreach. Andover’s program, on the other hand, is pleasantly void of the political and competitive attitudes common in other student organizations. There are merits to both systems, and the open conversation gave students an opportunity to see different perspectives and reflect on their respective programs.
Exeter has a diverse student body much like Andover and faces many of the same issues related to race, gender and socioeconomic class, among others. Two years ago, a discussion began at Andover focusing on the lack of female representation in student leadership roles. The conversation spread to Exeter when a group of Andover students submitted a Letter to the Editor to “The Exonian” about gender inequality on both campuses.
In such an exchange, Andover and Exeter students were able to look at their respective institutions through the lens of the other. This effective form of introspection nurtures and accelerates positive institutional and cultural change in both communities.
Bringing students from both schools together during Andover-Exeter weekend through meetings and panels could promote the exchange of ideas about how to improve both communities and encourage the schools to interact beyond athletics.
Andover is not unique in its struggles and successes, and taking the time to learn from our peers at Exeter may be worth overlooking our drive to “Wreck the Ex.”
_This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII._