by David Hermanson, Staff Writer, December 2021
Of all the organizations at Nobles, the Disciplinary Committee, or the DC, remains the most secretive. While most students are familiar with the standard hierarchy and path of disciplinary action (Teacher, Class Dean, Dean of Student Engagement Mark Spence, Head of School Catherine Hall) many view the DC as an enigma. Given the abundance of new students, it is important that this committee is re-explained in a way that is clear and makes students confident in their understanding of the way that disciplinary action is taken.
To begin, it is important to establish some simple facts. At its core, the Disciplinary Committee is a board that advises Head of School Cathy Hall, Ph.D. and one that, despite rumors, actually holds no power in regards to what happens to those who have committed an error in adhering to the school’s principles. In the end, Hall holds absolute power in cases that come before the DC.
In terms of the makeup of the Disciplinary Committee, a great amount of effort is put in to ensure that students presented before the committee are treated fairly by a group that is representative of their peers. To meet these ends, the committee consists of four student advisors and four faculty members. The student advisors are voted for by their grade, three of whom are Class I students and one who is Class II. While the identities of all members of the committee is technically public knowledge, excessive discussion of their roles is generally reserved so as to protect the number one value of the committee: confidentiality.
When it comes to personal matters involving violations of school rules, confidentiality and student safety is of the utmost importance to the DC. The committee upholds these values by disallowing communication regarding student affairs, and all committee members must refuse questions regarding any work they have done on the committee. Doing otherwise, the school administration argues, would put students who have made mistakes at risk of being unfairly judged by their peers. When justice is served, there is no need for further ramifications. Giving students a clean slate to start with is always the ultimate goal.
There is also a system in place to enable students coming before the committee to feel safe and welcomed. To ensure the student in question has the opportunity to be vouched for, any student coming before the committee is entitled to have their advisor present so as to defend them. In the end, this is because the committee is intended not only to doll out potential punishments for ill-actions but also to communicate with students how they can best rectify their mistakes. Communication works best when all those involved feel safe.
As clarification on this last point, there are moments when the committee serves only as a means to discuss issues with students. Punishment is not necessarily a given. There can be a point where if a student proves they did not intentionally harm the Nobles community and/or have valid excuses, the committee can serve as a means for which the student can communicate with Hall about plans moving forward.
In summary, the committee is a vital tool that the Nobles community benefits from when necessary. While there is no need for excessive secrecy and fear regarding the committee, it is important that everyone feels that they can approach discipline at Nobles with a knowledge that everything is being handled by responsible hands.