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Students Take Action in Disciplining Peers

John Null '18

John Null '18

By Tanvi Dange ’17 and Elle Grant ’18, Chief Editor and Section Editor

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The Discipline Committee (DC) is a unique aspect of the Peddie community. The group, made up of both faculty and students, is summoned when a student appeals a disciplinary decision made by the Deans. The majority of these cases are appealing a dismissal from Peddie. The role of the Discipline Committee is to hear the facts of the case, ask questions of the student involved, and deliberate on a recommendation for the headmaster  The headmaster has the final word on the matter, though the job is still a difficult one for the students on the committee.

The experience to serve the school through the Discipline Committee has greatly impacted the students who have done so. Co-Student Body President Andrea Patella ’17 serves on the Discipline Committee as part of her presidential duties. “It shows that presidency is not all fun and games,” Patella chuckles. She continued, “It’s very difficult to separate your personal feelings, but you have to do what is right for the school.”

An unfamiliar part of the committee to outsiders is the actual process of a hearing, which begins with an appeal from a student. At the actual hearing, the student comes in and everyone is introduced. The dean running the DC gives a detailed outline of what happened and the student who has called the hearing has a chance to dispute the claims as well as make a statement. The committee then has the opportunity to ask questions and then the student leaves and there is a vote.  

The vote is the sent to the headmaster, who has the final decision. Quinn said only once in his time as headmaster has he gone against a decision of the DC to keep a student on campus.  

Though the benefits of the committee are numerous, it was emphasized by all those who were interviewed what a difficult and emotional process being a member of a hearing is. Quinn commented upon an experience where a student “looked at me like it was a stab in the back.” Student member William Ma ‘17 echoed this view, reflecting “It was very tough to sit there and listen to a peer present with such emotion, and all I could do was sit there and listen; I couldn’t even pat him on the back.” It is clear that being a part of the disciplinary committee is an extremely emotional decision and a challenge to separate feelings of attachment to do what is right to uphold Peddie’s rules and honor.

There are some schools that rely completely on students on an entirely student run Disciplinary Committee. When asked if he would ever consider a completely student run committee here at Peddie, Quinn was not concerned with whether it would be taken advantage of, but with the pressure on students it would put. “It’s silly to say I wouldn’t consider it,” said the headmaster. “But there is a layer of student protection because it is the head who makes the final decision.” Quinn believes that an incredible amount of pressure would be put on students and the presence of faculty and other adults protects students from anger of their peers In addition, he said, he is the one who makes the final decisions.

The student’s opinion is truly valued in the decision making process, which is what makes serving on the Discipline Committee such a powerful experience, members said. The chair of the Discipline Committee, Marc Buchner, supports having students on the committee. “I think it’s great. As miserable as it is to see a fellow classmate really pleading to stay, it helps the students on the committee really mature. It’s so hard to describe unless you’re sitting in that room. It’s really impressive to see students on the committee ask questions and really grow up in front of us.”  

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Students Take Action in Disciplining Peers