Core Blue: Brief Primer of The Blue Book to Reinforce Community Values

Andover’s newly written Core Blue, a text set to serve as a supplement to the original Blue Book, was announced by Susan Esty, Dean of Students and Residential Life, following the All School Meeting (ASM) on September 9. Alongside a set of community values listed in Core Blue, the paper outlined the newly revised community standard violation protocol, set to replace the former Disciplinary Committee system.

The creation of the book began before the summer of 2022, when Jennifer Elliott ’94, former Dean of Students and Residential Life, and Jessica Herbster, member of the General Counsel, brainstormed the idea for a new version of the Blue Book. Following Elliott’s departure, Esty continued the project alongside Herbster. 

Reflecting back to the origin of the Blue Book, Esty described the intention behind creating the Core Blue. Through the Core Blue, the school hopes to further represent Andover’s core values for students. 

“The origin [of the book] was really how to educate, promote, and respond to behaviors of community members that come from a place of lifelong learning. We reorganized the Blue Book because there was a lot of ‘do-not’ [which] doesn’t really inspire you to be your best self, whereas holding others in their dignity feels more like something to try to do,” said Esty.

Esty continued, “We asked, ‘What of the whole blue book do students need?’ [The answer was] our school’s values––Non-Sibi, knowledge and goodness, and youth from every quarter–– core ethical values and community standards–– how we want to treat each other–– the essential elements of being a student here, and what would happen if [you act] outside of our community standards.”

In Core Blue’s section on responses to student conduct, it is outlined that offenses will be split into levels from one to three, another distinction from the Blue Book. Furthermore, in contrast to the lengthy version in the Blue Book, Core Blue offers an easier to understand, more concise version for students, according to Esty.  

“[Core Blue] is a brief primer on that and then more importantly what happens if, in your experience on our campus, your own or someone else’s behavior is not respecting self or others are not helping building a healthy and inclusive community. We tried to do a shorthand version so a student could pick it up and find the answers to a lot of questions,” said Esty. 

In lieu of the regulatory listings in the Blue Book, Core Blue suggests ways for students to foster a healthier community. According to Esty, the new edition will frame the ideals of the school’s policy in a more positive light. 

“Community and life is messy and beautiful. We’re not perfect and we know that. This idea of framing it like, ‘Let’s build a healthy and inclusive community’. [That] feels really good to me instead of, ‘Don’t post mean things about people.’ It’s something I feel more energy toward and I hope more students will feel more energetic towards as well,” said Esty. 

The new edition of the book garnered mixed reactions from both students and faculty members. Miriam Villanueva, Instructor in History and Social Sciences, welcomed the change of the Blue Book and looks forward to seeing the impact in the institution and around campus, acknowledging the efforts of the administration team. 

“I think it’s exciting that they are thinking through alternative ways of building better relationships with students. It’s difficult to innovate and enact change at a 200-year old institution, but they’re making an effort. I’m sure the school is open to revising and fleshing out the details of it as time goes on,” said Villanueva. 

Saraya Angbazo ’25 shared a similar view to Villanueva, noting that she has already learned more from Core Blue than the Blue Book. However, Angbazo highlighted concerns over the vagueness around changes to Andover’s disciplinary system, as set forth by Core Blue.  

“I think the new Core Blue book is a well-written, concise packet of information about our community’s values. I like that it focuses on creating a healthy environment for Andover as a whole, while highlighting being good to oneself. It’s super important that we respect self-care, especially at an institution as rigorous as [Andover. However,] when talking about Core Blue with house counselors, teachers, and other adults, we’ve never discussed the disciplinary system so far. Does this really affect the system? If so, what are the changes? I think it’d be beneficial for light to be shed on this topic,” said Angbazo.

Though Ethan Oder ’25 appreciated the abbreviated version of the Blue Book, as presented by Core Blue, he found faults in the paper’s extensivity. Thus, Oder suggested a compromise for the length of Core Blue and the Blue Book. 

“While it doesn’t bring any large change, Core Blue recognizes that most students don’t read the Blue Book, and presents a more palatable option for [students]. [It shows] what’s more important. However, the content itself feels a little bit too barren to the extent that it’s hard to find much value. I think a healthy medium between this and the Blue Book should be what Andover should strive for,” said Oder.