Phillipian Commentary: Understanding Change

The majority of the Andover community will never spend their mornings scanning posted ingredient lists looking for dairy free options, or resulting to the same set of food options every day because of a risk of cross-contamination. They won’t spend their weekends rushing from Upper Left to Upper Right to avoid the enclosing lines of aerosolized egg. Most of us don’t experience the daily conflicts our classmates face, and are therefore blind to the effects they have.

There has been a lot of talk about the changes in Paresky Commons this year, such as the new offerings of oat milk, the return of Pasta Mondays, and the removal of omelettes. These changes have received mixed reactions, but I believe these changes are decidedly positive because of how much it helps the lives of students with allergies and nutritional needs. Access to oat milk means the entirety of the milk-allergic and lactose-free student body is able to have a wider variety of breakfast options every day. While some may miss out on omelettes in the morning, their absence isolates eggs to one section of Commons, allowing a safer environment for those deathly allergic to them.

It is quite natural for us to view the changes from the lens of our own experiences. But when we take a step back and look at how the community as a whole is affected, insight can be gained about the necessity of change to support others. We do not all experience the struggles someone else faces every day. The most we can do is take a step away from our narrowing lenses and look at the bigger picture.

Change and adaptation to individual needs creates a stronger community. Allowing for modifications fosters an environment that can support everyone. As a school striving to uphold a purposely diverse community, Andover is constantly making changes to try to improve daily life. Though these changes are widely regarded as positive, an inclination can still be felt to cling on to what once was. Change is always geared towards some group — by supporting more and more individual groups, a foundation is created that builds up to the community as a whole, allowing everyone in it an equal ability to prosper.

When thinking of the biggest changes of Fall 2019, the new schedule rises to the top of the list. This new schedule has been widely accepted very positively, unlike some of the Commons changes. This disconnect is traceable to two reasons, primarily how we are affected by the change. Every student attending Andover has the same schedule layout. It is not a person to person experience, it is universal. Because we all experience the schedule’s changes, we all understand it. This leads to the second reason: education around the reasons for change. The change in the schedule was not a quiet affair, a hundred different purposes, reasonings, and explanations were broadcasted throughout campus. This is quite different than the changes at Commons, which were barely mentioned, much less explained. If we are not personally affected by a change or educated about a change, it can be hard to understand the reason behind it.

Adaptations to the life we find as “normal” are not always easy, but what causes almost no difference to one person can be life changing to another. While not being able to eat an omelette for breakfast might make one’s day minorly disrupted for the moment, it saves a classmate from a severe allergic reaction if they walk through commons. Change disrupts habits and, by extension, disrupts our routines. But change is necessary. It allows for a better world to be created for those most needing of it. We should be willing and purposeful about accepting these changes because while they may inconvenience some, they are crucial to the safety of others. As members of this community, we need to question our instincts to resist these changes, and instead explore the reasons behind them.