Phillips Academy’s Constitution states that Andover “shall be ever equally open to Youth, of requisite qualification, from every quarter”. An ever-aspirational charge for a school founded in 1778 to educate boys during the Revolutionary War, there is always a deep irony for me that I preside over our YFEQ ASM. It’s a testament to Andover’s commitment to cultivate a diverse community of learners and to our understanding that inherent to being an excellent institution is a body that represents the diversity of our world. It’s also a reminder, that we always have to complicate the narrative of YFEQ and interrogate what that means on our campus today, as we navigate a complex world in 2020 and in our year of justice. But it also speaks to our capacity for change. And our ability to look at a wrong and think about our place in making it right. To think about who is missing, and make space for them–not conditional space—but an unencumbered freedom-to-be oneself and live and thrive kind of space.
In my own life, and most especially here at Andover these past 8 years, I’ve been fortunate to meet colleagues and students who have expanded my own ideas and framework on community and sharpened my lens and perspective on the world.
Every time I hear one of your stories or an alum’s story, I consider it a great gift. I always say that it’s a great privilege when people trust you with their stories but that also means that we have a collective responsibility to think about how we carry those stories with us and then act as a result of what we’ve heard and learned. That can be in both big and small ways.
Our Youth From Every Quarter speaker, Attorney General William Tong, embodies those sentiments and more. Tong is the 25th Attorney General to serve Connecticut since the office was established in 1897 and the first Asian American elected at the statewide level, in Connecticut. In his tenure, he has led a forward thinking office, rooted in a belief that we must take collective care of each other. Most recently, he served as House Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ad was responsible for all legislation related to constitutional law, criminal law, civil rights, consumer protection, probate, judicial nominations and the Judicial branch, and major areas of substantive law.
During his service in the legislature, Tong helped lead passage of landmark legislation, including the Connecticut Second Chance Act, Domestic Violence Restraining Order Act, and the Act Protecting Schoolchildren. Tong is also amongst those leading the charge for more compassionate and humane immigration policies. He’s traveled to the US-Mexico border with fellow Attorney General’s, a trip that gave him an opportunity to reflect on his journey. Tong recalled that heavy feeling that he had recognizing that had his parents not been able to immigrate to the US that he wouldn’t have had opportunities that enabled him to be AG of Connecticut. As the oldest of five children, he grew up working side-by-side with his parents in their family’s Chinese restaurant.