Is the Judiciary Committee (JC) an effective process to resolve student misconduct?
The JC aims to spur community reflection and develop resolutions for students’ misconduct instead of serving as a form of punishment. They tackle issues mainly regarding violence, stealing, cheating, and the consumption of illegal substances. Each meeting is held in the Balfour room and is composed of four random 11th and 12th grade students, two random faculty members, and the chairman. At the start of the meeting, the dean of students presents the case and gives the student an additional chance for explanation. The meeting then opens for questions from the attendees, inquiring the student to identify temptations and pressures that prompted their actions.
The meetings more resemble counseling sessions than courtrooms; students often admit their mistakes, carry out some sincere self-reflection, and apologize. After talking with the student who has made the mistake, the student leaves the room and the committee makes a recommendation to the dean of students and school president. In cases in which a student has victimized others, the JC members may consider a vote regarding dismissal; the chairman only casts a vote when there is a tie. In any case, the school president makes all final disciplinary decisions.
The JC is considerate and serves as an effective measure in that it grants opportunities for students to explain their situations and answer questions from the attendees. The committee further recommends ways that may support student life in the future and helps them to prevent misconduct by providing resources to the students such as counselors, hotlines, etc.
“I feel that the intention of the JC is not to punish anyone, but for people to learn from an incident, realize their mistakes, and prevent it from happening in the future.” —A junior, Abbie Zhang, who has attended a JC meeting
The JC has undergone an immense change in aspects of greater leniency and the inclusion of additional misbehavior in the standards of conduct/the major offenses that lacked attention in the past. Students’ values have shaped and influenced the ways in which decisions were made in the JC. Dale Hinckley, the chairman of the JC, remarks, “Student recommendations like violations in drinking, for example, have changed over time. We used to be much more hard-core about it; it was common to dismiss students for drinking. Students have changed the values that we apply to the standards of conduct/the major offenses over the years…”
For instance, issues regarding harassment have been taken more seriously as the definition of misconduct extended. As disciplinary issues had been modified, they reflect the changing values that students have and demonstrate how students gained mutual respect and responsibility.