A crowd of students broke out into cheers when Nigel Savage ’23 and Sui Yu ’23 arrived in Susie’s to watch a performance of Under the Bed on April 1, minutes after an email was sent out announcing the pair had been elected 2022-2023 Student Body Co-Presidents. More than 900 students voted in the final round of the election, according to Kathryn Dolan, Assistant Dean of Students and Residential Life, in an email to the Andover community.
Throughout their campaign, Savage and Yu emphasized student empowerment. According to the pair, their platform was based in providing more accessible resources, freedom, and personal responsibility to Andover students.
“We can go on and on forever about all the amazing ideas we have to make this place that we all call home even better. But at the end of the day, all of our policies boil down to creating an Andover that has more freedoms and resources as well as more responsibility and leadership,” the pair said during their opening speech.
Savage and Yu articulated their desire to improve Andover students’ experiences as the primary reason they ran as co-presidents. Savage, a Class of 2023 Representative, believes that the best way to improve the student experience is to allow students more freedom and responsibility in their lives at Andover. Yu, a prefect in Paul Revere, said she wanted to run because of the dissatisfaction she felt after witnessing the lack of support structure for underclassmen like her prefectees.
“Especially with Covid-19, there were a lot of ways that the school wasn’t really supporting new freshmen, and helping them cultivate friendships and, with my lowers, enabling and empowering them with responsibility. And that kind of broke my heart, you know, that they come here and they have all these amazing opportunities but they aren’t really empowered or supported enough to take advantage of them. So I want to improve that and just make [Andover] the best school possible. For teachers and students—both younger students now and also the incoming students,” said Yu.
As an undercurrent throughout their platform, Savage and Yu plan to organize community conversations and establish a student advisory board to amplify students’ voices in Andover’s anti-racism efforts. They also hope to enhance sustainability education by integrating the topic into advisory and orientation programming. As part of this initiative, the future Co-Presidents want to create an “Earth Day-on,” where students attend workshops organized by the Phillips Academy Sustainability Coalition (PASC).
The pair also focused on dorm life as a major facet of their platform. Yu and Savage hope to focus on abolishing initial sign-in for upperclassmen dorms, as well as on reforming the room visitation policy.
“Andover is a really incredible school with really talented students. The main reason why we’re running is to empower those students with more freedom and personal responsibility. Part of that is eliminating initial sign-in for uppers. With the introduction of upperclassmen dorms, we feel that uppers should be able to set their own schedules and make their own choices. That also includes reforming the room visitation policy to expand the hours and destigmatizing it from being just about sex,” Yu said during Friday’s debate.
When asked if they could pick a single thing to get done as Co-Presidents, Savage and Yu both chose reforming the room visitation policy. Though the process will be difficult, Savage expressed his hope to create change that decouples room visitation from sex.
“I think the part that would be very difficult and the part that is going to take a long time is not just expanding hours because we’ve talked to the deans and that’s doable. The hard part is destigmatizing room visitation and taking away the expectation that sex is going to happen, because that takes a shift in culture. And that doesn’t happen overnight,” said Savage.
Given the longtime disagreement between the administration and students with previously similar student initiatives regarding room visitations, the pair acknowledged the potential challenge of this aspect of their platform. However, they both expressed the belief that they could make change happen because of the opportunity for change presented by Covid-19.
“If you look at the past two years, I think there’s been more changed in the past two years than in the previous 10 years, because with Covid-19, the whole world shook, and even 11/12 [grade] dorms and 9/10 [grade] dorms just flat out didn’t exist at Andover before,” Savage said.
Sui continued, “I think with Covid-19 there’s a real opportunity here. To not only just add policy changes, but to rework a lot of our existing programs and policies, from the ground up and make them more inclusive and more effective for students so that students can take advantage of [them].”