On Friday, April 22, students, faculty, and staff gathered for the weekly assembly in RMPAC and although general announcements were made about school happenings and upcoming events, the gist of the meeting was dedicated to addressing issues surrounding the sanctions against LA that were handed down by the ISL earlier in the week.
Head of School Wiggins addressed the assembly and spoke at length about sanctions and how various decisions were made.
He said, “I believe the decision by the ISL was cumulative in nature, taking into account several areas of concern.” He went on to explain that in the ISL statement where the sanctions are articulated, it was clear that issues surrounding need-based financial aid practices and off-season activity were points of consideration.
In regards to need-based financial aid, Wiggins said that over the last several years, there have been several instances where students in attendance at LA were funded beyond their demonstrated need, in violation of ISL Bylaws, which prohibit any form of scholarship that is not need-based.
He also spoke of off-season athletic activity, explaining that over the past year or so, summer training sessions took place in violation of ISL off-season training rules agreed upon by the league.
“I want to be clear,” said Wiggins, “that the actions in question here were the actions of adults and in no way are the student athletes at LA responsible for the outcomes voted by the league.” He also made clear that LA is already working to address the issues that were of concern to the league.
After the assembly, student body president Emily Field invited all who were interested in staying to remain in their seats in what was planned to be a silent protest.
The meeting, however, quickly evolved into a very productive dialogue that included unscripted, heartfelt, brief remarks by faculty, staff, and students alike. Some students respectfully raised their hands to ask questions of the administration and Mr. Wiggins fielded the majority of those inquires.
Many faculty members who spoke shared poignant and moving personal stories that provided perspective to the week’s events and conveyed a supportive, familial sense to the gathering. Students, too, were well spoken and sincere in their questions and comments.
Despite lingering questions and a sense of confusion and frustration, particularly among students, the tenor of the assembly was supportive and caring and was indicative of the strong, compassionate community that is Lawrence Academy. A sense of purpose and renewed connectedness was the result of the morning’s meeting. For students, the assembly was the first step in getting some answers and developing some proactive, productive ideas that they can pursue.