New disciplinary system goes into effect
The 2011-2012 school year marks the first time that Loomis Chaffee will implement a three-level disciplinary system. Last spring, the Student Council voted to modify the former two-level system in order to provide a more clear, equitable system of discipline that would, proponents claim, ideally ensure a fitting punishment for major violations of school rules.
A student would be placed on Level III status when substantial lying accompanies a Level II offense or when multiple major school rules are violated at one time. As there is no set list of Level III offenses, it is up to the judgment and discretion of the deans to decide when an offense warrants a Level III.
If a student’s behavior is deemed worthy of a Level III, he or she is given the right to appeal the decision. The student would meet with a three-student panel made up of members of the Disciplinary Committee, his or her class dean, his or her adviser and a student witness of his or her choosing to speak on their behalf. The panel would hear the student’s case and vote to decide if placement on Level III status is fitting for the offense. If the panel disagrees with the decision made by the deans, the entire Disciplinary Committee would meet to come to a consensus on fair consequences for the student’s actions. After a person has been placed on Level III status, the consequences are the same as those of a Level II: the student would complete 16 hours of work for the community, remain on Level III status for the remainder of the year and at the end of the school year, and have place at the school reviewed for the coming academic year. The real difference between the Level II and Level III status consequences is that, “a student placed on Level III [status] is in greater jeopardy for the rest of their Loomis career,” said Woody Hess, associate head of school and dean of senior boys. If a student who has been placed on Level III status at any point in career at Loomis violates a major school rule, regardless if it is the same rule he or she has broken in the past, or develops a pattern of poor behavior, in other words accumulating multiple Level I offenses, he or she would face a hearing by the Disciplinary Committee.
Under the previous system, after violating any major school rule a student would be placed on Level II status. If the student were to violate any major rule during his or her time on Level II status or if at any time during the remainder of the student’s time at Loomis he or she violated the same major rule, he or she would face a hearing of the Disciplinary Committee.
Ironically, one of the greatest issues this simpler disciplinary policy faces is that students are confused and uninformed about it. A popular rumor said that any student placed on Level III status would go immediately to a hearing by the Disciplinary Committee and would likely be required to withdraw. The actual policy nearly eliminates cases of students going to Disciplinary Committee for a first offense: before the addition of the Level III, certain egregious behavior or the breaking of multiple rules could warrant a hearing on the first offense. Many others said that they did not understand the significance or benefit to adding a new level to our disciplinary system.
“It is, quite frankly, a much more equitable system,” said Student Council President Lindsay Gabow ’12, “and the ambiguity ensures that students are not treated unfairly. For example, it would seem that getting six “deeps” is not tantamount to plagiarizing an entire paper or viciously harassing another student.” Lindsay spearheaded the Level III proposal last year with Alexander Lafrance ’12. The two drafted the proposal and brought it in front of the Student Council, keeping the movement largely student-driven. “When this proposal was in the negotiation process, a number of students were concerned that this new Level system would have a negative effect on the student body because it would impose stricter rules and punishments. We made sure that this would not be the case,” Lafrance said. Although this new Level system is officially a part of the Student Handbook, it remains a work in progress. “[There is] a very strong foundation in place right now, but [the Student Council] hopes to continue building on it over time, making alterations to the system where necessary,” said Lafrance. The Student Council and Rules Committee encourage any students and faculty with ideas or input on how to improve the system.