The Blue Book is an over-complicated mess of rules and regulations, all centered around what our community isn’t. Meanwhile, from ASM to EBI, “non-sibi,” “respect,” and “inclusion” are used so often that our values have become cluttered and confusing. To the both of us, Core Blue seemed like an incredibly exciting alternative. Since the school had set a tone of reforming the disciplinary system, we were looking forward to refreshingly clear language and student body values. It had the potential to explicitly commit to a just campus, clarify the archaic Blue Book, and make the gaping divide between students and the administration more transparent.
Unfortunately, the final product failed to meet any of our expectations. For starters, it isn’t a renewed commitment to reform. Outlining a non-discrimination policy and mentioning a belief in fostering “students from diverse backgrounds”—while undoubtedly nice—is just the same platitudes as before. While a land acknowledgement was undoubtedly a powerful step for a school like Andover, it is not the final step towards broader systemic justice.
When considering clarity, Core Blue, again, fails on a fundamental level. Even if it is only meant to be a change in language, that language is pointlessly vague. There is no statement of intent, only a jumble of assorted statements abstracted from the very real issues they are supposed to address. Indeed, the vagueness and lack of nuance works against it. To “recognize that different viewpoints and experiences can co-exist” does as much to promote diversity as it does to protect intolerant beliefs, especially ones that target marginalized communities.
Most importantly, Core Blue fails to explain the school’s values in any real way. Any person can look at this document and read it as an endorsement of the values they already have, no matter what they are. This vagueness makes a personal embodiment of our school’s fundamental beliefs impossible. For instance, what could a student take away from Core Blue’s recommendation to “behave responsibly, respectfully, and honestly?” Everyone either believes they already are, or recognizes they already need to improve: both are situations Core Blue fails to address. In summary, though we are told that if you follow our values, you will follow the Blue Book, the overarching philosophy of Core Blue is so vague that it is useless to any student wishing to improve.
On a very fundamental level, Core Blue sought to change the language surrounding Andover’s ideals. It was an opportunity to make our oft-repeated slogans and mottos into a real commitment for a better Big Blue. However, instead of taking this opportunity, it merely restates the same-old platitudes. It encourages students to live a “responsible, fulfilling life” without defining what that means for our community. It mentions an “equitable and inclusive school” without setting any standards for the improvements we can—and must—still make. It centers the idea of “not for self” without defining what the student body should be for.
At the end of the day, Core Blue is not all negative. The “Support Services” section is legitimately helpful, and we appreciate the space dedicated to the new response system. Moreover, the effort and care put into the final product is apparent. We understand the motivations behind the administration’s decisions. A renewed commitment to equity and equality can stir controversy, but a declaration of change requires follow through. The reuse of Andover’s slogans is easier than actually clarifying our values. However, if it’s not doing any of these things, Core Blue resigns itself to being nothing more than another document students are forced to read. More concise and much better designed, but still a representation of the same old status quo.