[Editorial] DC Process Puts Administrators in a Vice
by The Milton Measure on Friday, March 8th, 2013
Milton Academy’s administrators hold a complex position on campus. Head of School Todd Bland, Principal David Ball, and deans such as Jose Ruiz must act as both leaders and disciplinarians for the Milton community. Mr. Bland, Mr. Ball, and the deans are some of the most highly respected individuals at Milton, and their dedicated work continues to earn them deep admiration from faculty and students alike. The DC process, however, is a consistent source of tension between students and the administration.
Anyone who exercises the power to suspend and expel students, no matter how well-liked, will inevitably come under fire from the student body. Administrators are accustomed to coping with student backlash in the wake of DCs. After several controversial DC decisions in the past few years, students have led attempts to change committee decisions, and been frustrated when their efforts have, unsurprisingly, failed. Such acts encourage students to view the administration as a force to be overcome rather than as the handful of hard-working school leaders that the vague term “administration” actually encompasses. There is no dark back room where shadowy figures meet around a table in order to make students’ lives miserable. The decision to suspend or expel any member of the community is incredibly difficult, especially when administrators have known and lived with students for years, sometimes since early childhood.
While DC decisions may seem unfair, particularly when they involve our friends, we should recognize that these heavy decisions are not made by a distant bureaucracy, or on the whims of mysterious hyper-conservative adults. Rather, the outcome of any given DC is the product of hours of deliberation from the same individuals whose voices we welcome in class and at morning assemblies.
The administration is not an abstract force bent on the expulsion of every errant teen on campus. Rather, Mr. Ball and other leaders work honestly and conscientiously to maintain a community in which students feel accepted, motivated, and comfortable. When one of our friends is punished for a DC-able offense, it is easy to channel our outrage towards the enforcers of discipline, the administration, rather than towards the offense itself. In doing so, we often fail to recognize that an individual’s position of power in a DC Committee does not render him or her immune to the sadness and frustration that accompany any case of serious disciplinary action. In fact, administrators are often just as reluctant to make their decisions as we are to accept them.
All of this sympathy is not to argue that criticism of the administration is always unwarranted; often, student critiques of the DC process, particularly regarding its transparency, are well-founded, and the administration could on occasion be more receptive to student sentiment. Ultimately, however, the members of the administration are working for, not against, Milton and its students. Milton’s disciplinary process, like that of any organization, is an unpleasant necessity. Whether we disagree with the outcomes or not, we should give a degree of deference to those who must make the most difficult decisions at Milton Academy.
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