Validating Values

Over Thanksgiving break, tensions mounted across the country, and on social media in particular, as grand juries failed to indict the police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The school faculty and administration, along with student organizations, have taken an exceptionally active position in helping to host a forum, candlelight vigil and a speaker addressing the issue of police brutality against blacks in America.

A point of contention, however, has been the email about these recent events that Head of School John Palfrey sent to the Andover community over break, co-written by Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, and Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development. In particular, some students and parents have taken offense to his description of the shooting as “racially-charged.”

The general concern is that this email, and that epithet in particular, was an attempt by Palfrey and the administration to determine the political agenda of Andover, an educational institution that serves individuals from diverse backgrounds and of diverse views. Yet Andover is a private institution, which means that its leaders – specifically, Palfrey, the Board of Trustees, and the Deans — have the power to frame the discussion along our institution’s values.

In the past year, Andover has been moving in a specific direction, with a greater attention and focus towards inclusivity. The school should be proud that, while also promoting intellectual freedom, it has taken the initiative to embrace its values in the context of current cultural and political events. Only in continuing to actively do so can Andover move towards becoming a school that teaches its students how to be “excellent” in the classroom, on the fields and especially as part of a diverse community. 

_This editorial represents the views of _The Phillipian_ Editorial Board CXXXVII. _