Students, beware: two cuts is now the maximum amount a student can have without consequences. The Blue Book underwent revisions over the summer, and new policies, made with a more severe approach, are implemented to stress the importance of attendance during school-related activities. Previously, poor attendance was considered a major offense and often resulted in probation.
Dean of Students and Residential Life, Jennifer Elliott ’94 said, “We want to improve student independence. We want students to be going to all of their engagements, whether that’s their classes, their work duty, their advising meetings, their extracurricular commitments, we just want to give students every reason to attend their commitments.”
Students with three to five unexcused absences will meet with their point person or attend mandatory weekend study hall. Six to 15 unexcused absences will result in Student Reflection and a Core Team/Full Team Response. 16-plus unexcused absences will cause a Full Team Response or Student Program Review Committee (SPRC) Review.
“We have outlined a list of consequences for major absentees where a student will have a series of core team responses, a full team response, and ultimately a full-team meeting,” said Elliott.
The core team includes the student’s cluster dean, primary house counselor/day student advisor, and if the student boards, their advisor. The full team includes the core team, all current instructors in academic courses, coaches, and supervisors. Their job is to assist the student with time management, a healthier sleep schedule, and attend to obstacles a student may have getting to class.
“I feel like the two cuts system is a good way to help people make sure that they’re getting caught up with classes and making sure that they’re responsible for their own education because it’s boarding school. I’m a supporter of it because I think it will really help people just keep up with their classwork, take care of themselves, and be responsible academically,” said Jen Lu ‘19.
Multiple terms of unexcused absences and failure to follow the expectations could result in expulsion from the school or a required leave of absence. If a Senior has ten or more unexcused absences during spring term, then the student will receive his or her diploma late and will likely be excluded from Commencement activities including prom.
According to Elliott, commitment is an essential element, and attending activities is a fundamental reason for being at Andover. She wants to make sure students are going to class and that even when they are not in a learning environment, they are still engaged with their surroundings.
“We want to include parents or families in that conversation to help motivate kids to get to class, and be part of the conversation when kids are struggling. When they’re having a hard time in a class, we want to be sure that the adults around them are supporting them,” said Elliott.
“Let’s say, for example, for a whole week I had a lot of work, and on a Friday, my body decided that it needed some empathy and balance and decided to sleep through two classes. Having the two cut system makes the repercussions for sleeping a little longer a lot worse than it was before,” said Vish Dhar ‘19.
“I don’t think it really helps with administering punishments or anything like that, you’re just going to get a lot more people cutting. You’re going to have to be giving a lot of restrictions for overcutting, so I don’t think it’s helping anyone,” continued Dhar.
The “Attendances and Absences” section is highlighted on pages 54-56 of the Blue Book, where the rules explicitly state that students accumulating unexcused absences will receive disciplinary action.
Changes in the Blue Book are not uncommon, according to Elliott. The aim of the Blue Book is to outline the expectation for students and to make rules clear.
“Every year we revise the Blue Book. That’s our practice, and that’s been our practice forever. Truthfully, every time it goes to print, there’s always something that we think ‘Hm… maybe we could explain that more clearly, maybe that’s something that we should do better or differently,’ ” said Elliott.
In terms of ideas for the future, Elliott suspects that there will be revisions in room visiting policies to make Andover more gender-inclusive.
Elliott said, “Thinking about the binary nature of our room visiting policies right now, and a lot of the hetero-normative assumptions that are made when thinking about our room visiting practices and policies. And so we’re trying to think about how we can craft a policy that is more in line with our values and our community expectations.”