Students React to Growth and Accountability Plan Two at Question and Answer Forum

Four days after the announcement of the Growth and Accountability Plan Two (GAP2), a question and answer forum was held to clarify the differences between the original GAP and the new GAP2 student conduct systems. The Q&A forum was led by Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington, Dean of Students and Residential Life Dr. Susan Esty, Cluster Deans, Student Body Co-Presidents, and Cluster Co-Presidents in the Underwood Room on Sunday.

Despite being open to all students, the forum only had three attendees. As one of the three in attendance, ND Nwaneri ’24 voiced his opinions on GAP2, specifically on its goals to hold recurrent offenders more accountable. 

“Having two GAPs, the second GAP being more restrictive that’s far more built on rehabilitation, is good, especially when the second GAP contains stricter measures such as drug testing and random room searches. So I think things like that are going to be more likely to stifle repeat offenders. Student conduct is a really tricky thing but just from talking to other people and just thinking about it, I think that the GAP2 system is definitely better than what we had before,” said Nwaneri. 

Max Berkenblit ’24, another student participant in the forum, appreciates how GAP2 is an alternative to suspensions and dismissals, giving Level 2 and Level 3 infractors a second chance to remain in the Andover community. In addition to on-campus resources, GAP2 provides more rigorous off-campus support, in the form of mandated counseling or consultations with adolescent psychiatrists. 

“It’s going to be another way for students to remain on campus and remain supported. I think it’ll be really helpful for a lot of students who can benefit from having that kind of extra level of support and guidance, and they’ll have the chance to stay on campus and be supported by a community of people that they trust and have teachers that they know listen to them and guide their perspectives,” said Berkenblit.

However, Berkenblit also posed some concerns about GAP and GAP2 systems. Although the initiative is a step towards increased transparency in decision-making processes, student leaders and faculty in charge of implementing consequences are faced with intense pressure, according to Berkenblit.

“What worries me is that teachers are already incredibly overworked, might face burnout. And I’m worried that for students serving on these committees, dealing with and hearing these cases. And feeling like you may be responsible for someone having to go home and having to go into a situation that might not be the best for them. That’s a really heavy burden,” said Berkenblit.

Cluster Co-President of Pine Knoll Dakota Chang ’23 spoke on how the addition of GAP2 opens up more options when addressing student conduct scenarios. The wider variety of resources allows accountability plans to be tailored specifically to a student’s needs, according to Chang. 

“The [Community Standards Committee] system as a whole places a lot of trust on the community members that we have elected and the deans to exercise good judgment. And I think GAP2, in many ways, would actually help us exercise this judgment in a better way because we have more choices. We have more tools in our arsenal to best support the community. So I think GAP2 as a response to this could really help us grow as a community and keep the community together too,” said Chang.