On Friday, October 8th, The Phillipian published a Commentary article titled “Secondary Schools and Silence.” This piece attempted to discuss issues of sexual misconduct at private high schools. It contained several inaccuracies and misleading statements regarding the history and policies of both Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy that were not in keeping with the dedication to fact-based opinion and research Commentary must have within its writing and editing process.
The article inaccurately described Andover’s policies and responses to gender-based sexual violence and misconduct. After the investigation concluded in 2017 and revealed former misconduct perpetrated by adults to students in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the school instituted a number of policy changes and further supported those that existed beforehand following school-wide efforts to combat gender-based sexual violence and following the Brace Center for Gender Studies’ Secondary School Conference on Gender-Based Harassment and Violence. These initiatives, some of which were new and some of which were already in progress before the investigation, ranged from education-based programs (such as Be L.O.V.E.D., YES+ dorm talks, and Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) listening sessions), to community-based programs, to the recent hiring of a conflict resolution specialist, as well as faculty training on sexual misconduct policies and investigations and concrete policy revisions and clarifications in both the Blue Book and the Faculty/Staff handbook. In addition, an outside investigator for Community Conduct Council (CCC) cases involving sexual misconduct was hired, alongside an outside expert to direct the CCC. An email that Former Head of School John Palfrey sent to the Andover community during the 2016 investigation that is referenced in the article was inaccurately summarized. The email was an update regarding the status of a later report that went unmentioned in the article. This July 2017 report, addressed to the Board of Trustees and John Palfrey and titled “Sexual Misconduct Investigation,” detailed the steps that Sanghavi Law Office, an outside organization hired by the school, took to investigate the misconduct that happened decades earlier.
The article also made other claims regarding the past and present policies of Phillips Exeter Academy that were generalized and unsupported by sufficient evidence. Other claims conflated past and current issues at Andover with issues listed in Nancy Jo Sales’ “Vanity Fair” article detailing her experiences at Exeter.
The Phillipian regrets these errors.