By Kubair Chuchra '18
From preventing eating in the hallways to stopping students from cheating on exams, honor and discipline play an integral role in keeping STA and NCS safe and moral communities. Here is a closer look at how the two school handle these two issues:
Punishments for dress-code violations at the schools vary both in severity and consistency. At STA, most teachers respond to a student’s missing blazer, loose tie, or unshaved beard with a gentle reminder of the rules and a request that the student fix the issue as soon as possible. If the issue becomes a pattern, STA’s more hardline teachers will require the student to meet with their form dean. Most of the time, this meeting results in another reminder of the dress-code rules and why they are in place.
NCS teachers also often give verbal warnings to first-time dress-code violators. Unlike at STA, however, if an NCS student violates the dress code multiple times or the wrong teacher happens to see them in the hallway, the student can find themselves serving a detention.
Aside from breaking the dress code, NCS students can serve detention for skipping Chorale, being late to a class five times or more during a semester, eating food in the hallway, going off-campus as a non-senior, and driving down to the Athletic Center. In other words, NCS faculty members can give a student detention for any rule violation they see fit.
“Detention is basically punishment through boredom,” says Sophie Dunn ‘18, who received detention earlier this year for wearing leggings. “You just have to help a teacher with organization or miscellaneous tasks for an hour on a Wednesday.”
Though detention is a frequent punishment at NCS, it is unheard of at STA. “I can’t imagine an STA where I would have to show up to school an hour early just for something like parking on Garfield or eating in the Sky Lounge,” says Max Niles ‘18. “That just seems bonkers.”
Certain STA and NCS teachers enforce minor rules through equally quirky means. Ms. Jessica Clark, NCS Dean of Students, reminds students of rules through hashtags like #fivelates=detention and #NOtosneakers #notatcathedral, and Mr. Michael Hansen, STA Computer Science Department Chair and well-known rule enforcer, does the same with acronyms like H.A.S.F.O.B. (Halls And Stairways Free Of Belongings). Most teachers, however, stick to reciting the rules.
STA and NCS administrators respond to major rule infractions with different takes on the same method. Students at both schools caught lying, cheating, stealing, under the influence at a school event, or violating any other major school rule can expect to go before an honor or discipline council made up of both their peers and faculty members. At STA, four faculty members and all five elected senior prefects make up the honor council. Likewise, four faculty members, the student body head prefect, and the senior class president and vice president serve on the discipline council. Though the honor and discipline council are used in most cases at STA, school administrators can and have taken disciplinary action against students without the use of them.
NCS’s honor and discipline councils are set up slightly differently. Elected by their peers to serve a two-year term at the end of their sophomore year, two junior and two senior representatives serve on the honor council alongside of two faculty members, the dean of students, and the head of Upper School. NCS’s discipline board is comprised of two student representatives, also elected at the end of their sophomore year, two faculty members, and the grade dean for the student in question. Unlike at STA, NCS’s honor and discipline board representatives are not necessarily members of Student Government, though this year’s NCS senior discipline board representative, Katie Skoff ‘18, is also NCS’s student government president.
After an honor or discipline hearing at NCS, the respective committee recommends a consequence to Head of School Ms. Kathleen Jamieson, who makes the final decision. The next day, a member of the honor or discipline posts an announcement describing the meeting and the decision on NCS’s student government bulletin board, without mentioning the students name. At STA, Head of Upper School Dr. Benjamin Labaree replaces Ms. Jamieson’s role in the process and the STA head prefect makes an announcement about the meeting and decision at lunch.
Though both STA and NCS make similar information regarding honor and discipline cases public, STA’s lunch announcements can be more revealing than NCS’s subtle student government bulletin board signs. By presenting such information to the entire school at once during lunch, the STA system, especially in the case of a suspension, makes it easier for students to deduce who among their peers faced the discipline or honor committee simply by observing who is and isn’t at school that day.
At NCS, publicity around major disciplinary and honor issues generally remains low. “We make a sincere effort to protect the identity of whoever is involved in the hearing,” says Jordan Gasho ‘18, one of the two senior honor board representatives.
These varying levels of publicity may nod at larger differences between how STA and NCS students perceive discipline and honor. After all, the two institutions are quite different culturally, despite being similar logistically.