To the editor:
In response to recent discussions surrounding the current Personal Time Policy, we, the student body Co-Presidents, urge the administration to consider the voices of peers and friends. As stated in both an email from the Dean of Students Office and at the Student Council forum, the “discontinuation of personal time” has recently been under consideration. On behalf of the majority of students, as well as Student Council, we want to emphasize the importance of personal time, while also analyzing the rare dilemma that confronts the faculty and students at this point in time
For those who are unaware of the current personal time policy, the Blue Book states that, “each term, students may take one period of personal time in each of their classes and their exercise/ sport commitment if, and only if, they have no unexcused absences in that class/sport during the current term,” (56). Students are expected to request personal time with their teacher 24 hours in advance of their class meeting, and teachers may deny personal time “during the final week of the term; if there is a scheduled assessment, laboratory, group activity, or presentation; or if the teacher feels that the student is struggling in the course,” (56).
Recently, faculty concerns have been threefold: 1. Students are misusing personal time for the incorrect reasons; 2. Students feel a sense of entitlement to receiving personal time, leaving teachers feeling as if they are unable to deny personal time; 3. Students have various other means of getting excused from commitments, including the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, Dean’s Excuse, OASIS, college visits, prefect/proctor time, and the trainer’s office.
While we understand the faculty’s frustrations with the current policy, personal time is an essential support system that promotes self-advocacy and personal well-being. It is crucial to finish work, take a break, catch up, or take a step back. It facilitates discussions among faculty and students, encouraging faculty to support their scholars. Regardless of its use, a majority, if not all, of the aspects regarding personal time are positive. Repealing the policy would be a detriment to student health, especially during a time when Andover must prove itself capable of providing adequate mental health support for its students.
Considering both faculty and student input, we have reached the conclusion that the most pertinent course of action should be one of reeducation. The purpose of this would be to reiterate the correct uses and value of personal time for all members on our campus, as well as to stress the proper behavior that students must display when communicating with teachers. In turn, this would properly inform the students and faculty of a support system that is meant to promote health and wellness.
The actions of the few should not dictate the discourse of the many. As students, we need to join together and voice our opinions to the faculty, especially during a time when the faculty are eager to listen to us. That is why participation in forums and conversation with faculty on a daily basis creates an environment that is conducive to the betterment of our school community. Advocate for yourself and the wellbeing of your peers. At the end of the day, we all want a happy and healthy Andover. Let us work together to achieve this common goal.
Shahinda Bahnasy and Sebastián Romero