DeConstructing the DC Process
by Elizabeth Muse on Friday, April 24th, 2015The junior class at Milton has been hit hard by a recent wave of disciplinary committee statements; since spring break, four juniors have been brought before the committee for violating the school’s drug and alcohol policies, while another was brought before the committee twice for cheating and lying repeatedly. The DC process can feel foreign and mysterious, so most students would prefer to be kept in the dark about the process rather than go through it themselves.
The air of mystery around DCs arises from a variety of factors. Grace Stanfield (II) reasons that most people do not know much about the process because “DCs don’t affect [them]”; Grace’s reasoning is that as long as you are not in trouble, you will not concern yourself with the committee.
However, DCs either directly or indirectly affect everyone on campus. Unfortunately, most of us are the classmates, teammates, or friends of someone who has gone through the process. As a result, it is important for all students to understand the logistics of the disciplinary committee.
The Student Handbook, which the school requires every student to read each year, has three pages dedicated to explaining School Discipline. If a student violates a school rule, he can be subject to appear either before the Deans Committee, “for which suspension or dismissal are not considered appropriate responses,” or the Disciplinary Committee, where the student “should expect a penalty of suspension.”
According to the handbook, “the Dean’s Committee does not establish whether a student has violated school rules, but hears cases of students who admit to breaking [them].” However, if “a student who has appeared before the Dean’s Committee commits a similar offense [again], the student must appear before the Discipline Committee.”
The DC Committee is a more serious measure taken by the school in response to the student’s offence, since a “second appearance for the same offense or a third appearance for any reason is likely to result in expulsion,” as the handbook states.
For academic dishonesty related offences, the penalty can differ for different grades. Class IV students are “subject to penalties ranging from loss of privileges to suspension.” Classes I-III face “penalties to dismissal”. Ultimately, the range of rules and punishments range depending on each student’s case. For all Classes, however, the school will produce a “written report of the offense to the student’s parents.” In addition, in all cases, “the student will receive a zero (0) for their work.”
Although the actions of the Dean’s Committee or the Disciplinary Committee are often misunderstood, many students nonetheless have strong opinions about them. Hannah Nigro (II) shared a common thought that “the punishments [made by the school] can be too extreme sometimes,” and she thinks that “[the school has] to put [the situation] into perspective. Would day students caught doing the same things as boarders get in as much trouble at home? Probably not.”
Many students also have concerns about DC statements being read out loud to the upper school community. According to the handbook, “a public announcement including the student’s name, the general nature of the offense, and the disciplinary response is made to the School as soon as possible following the [committee’s] decision.” Reading the statements out loud, often during morning assemblies, allows the administration to be transparent and serves as a cautionary tale to other students. The administration often follows up the statement with general thoughts and words of advice to each grade.
Whether the administration is able to reach each student listening to the statement depends on the individual. Jack Sheehan (III) says “I think reading DC [statements] out loud [is] supposed to intimidate students, but I’m not sure that it’s all that effective. Sometimes the [statements] just become gossip rather than something to learn from”. Caroline McCarthy (IV) offers her perspective, saying, “I think we [freshman], especially at the start of the year, weren’t sure how to respond to DCs.”
Although ideally no student should be brought before the disciplinary committee, the reality is very different and it is important that we fully understand Milton’s school discipline policies.
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