Student Council to Pitch New Parietal Rules

At the end of Winter Term, Student Council, in conjunction with the new policy committee, will propose a plan to implement updated parietal rules at Andover.

The current parietal rules, based on a binary dorm system, allow students to have guests of the opposite gender under supervision of House Counselors. However, with the implementation of an all-gender housing system, Andover is revisiting these rules.

“We just feel like people should have the opportunity to have privacy, and the line between privacy and supervision is one that we’re trying to grapple with… We’re so excited that Student Council this year has started an initiative to review these rules,” said Rajesh Mundra, Assistant Dean of Students and Residential Life.

According to Mundra, Student Council has looked at the room visiting rules of other schools in order to create a plan catered toward for the needs of Andover students.

Ultimately, the faculty will decide on the new rules.

According to Eastlyn Frankel ’18, Student Body Co-President, the current parietal system does not include all sexualities and does not foster healthy relationships.

“I think that [the current parietal system] sort of excludes members of our community that maybe don’t identify as straight. I also think it can make relationships between boys and girls on this campus a little bit awkward or uncomfortable, if parietals always have this sort of precedent that something intimate will happen,” said Frankel.

Adin McAuliffe ’20, a member Student Council’s Policy Committee, believes that the committee’s new proposal can prevent unpleasant situations in the dorms.

“It will provide safety and a more secure place for students to feel comfortable and not break any rules… whether it be getting walked in [on], or walking into an uncomfortable situation from a teacher,” said McAuliffe.

Melanie Cheung ’20 is excited at the prospect of a new parietal system. Cheung said that the current rules are outdated system and complicated to the point where students just do not request parietals.

“I think that the parietal rules that we have in place now are definitely super outdated, and I’m very much for them trying to make it less based around the binary system and less heteronormative,” said Cheung.

As a parent herself, Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese and House Counselor in Johnson Hall, hopes that the new parietal system can involve more cooperation with the parents of Andover students.

“Maybe we should let parents sign off if their children can have parietals, just like they sign off on car permission [and] day excuses for [them]… I feel if house counselors and parents are on the same page with regards to the communication of expectations and rules on parietals, then students’ well-being and healthy relationship building will be better taken care of,” wrote Ma in an email to The Phillipian.

The student council has looked to other private boarding high schools to see how their rules differ from Andover’s. For instance, at Phillips Exeter Academy, students of opposite genders may visit one another with the door halfway open, lights on, and permission from a faculty member on-duty.

Inter-room visiting at Hotchkiss follows a sign-in and sign-out system facilitated by a faculty member on duty. Loomis Chaffee and the Hill School do not permit any inter-room visiting.

Rules for students at Lawrenceville, Taft, and Deerfield differ by grade and change depending on the ages of the students visiting each other.

“At this point, I believe our policy strikes a good balance, giving students a chance visit personal spaces (i.e. not common rooms) while making sure that behaviors are in keeping with living in a close space with other housemates. Often, these discussions end up focusing on sexual activity. Our visitation policies are not established for sexual intimacy. However, we have a clear policy for sexual consent and do not discipline students for consensual sexual activity, but we do discourage it,” wrote Blake Eldridge, Dean of Students at Lawrenceville School, in an email to The Phillipian.

Will Morris, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life at Choate, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “These rules are revisited every summer, and are revised by the Dean of Students in response to input from both advisers and students. Recent changes include a rewording of the policy to be gender-based rather than sex-based, changes to visitation hours in response to the adoption of a new daily schedule, and a heightened consequence (disciplinary warning) for students who violate visitation regulations outside of visitation hours.”

According to Mundra, a possible change in the parietal rules may involve different types of room visiting, such as study room visiting. In study room visiting, students would be able to visit rooms of the opposite gender during study hours. The doors would remain open and the lights would remain on, but the process would not be as complicated as the current one.

Frankel said, “There’s been a lot of interesting approaches that people have brought up to me or interesting points about ways that student council and the community as a whole could potentially go about editing our parietal rules. I think for the most part, people are in support of them being changed and edited, and I think the introduction of the policy committee will really expedite this process.”