Blue Book Change Requires Students To Respond to All Questioning in DC

According to a Blue Book rule new this year, now students must respond to all questions posed by the Cluster Deans and community members present at a Discipline Committee. The addition to the disciplinary guidelines now reads, “failure to cooperate in an investigation when involved in a rule infraction” is a violation punishable by a cluster DC. Dean of Students Marlys Edwards said that the regulation will prove beneficial in situations where students become resistant to faculty members and resort to lying. Ms. Edwards explained that because faculty are usually able to discover enough information regarding a disciplinary case without questioning those involved in the incident, students worsen their situation when they lie to protect themselves. Because of the requirement to cooperate in investigations, Ms. Edwards said that fewer students will feel the need to incriminate themselves further by providing dishonest answers. However, Ms. Edwards said that the school will “never ever” require students to implicate others in a DC unless the circumstances regard life-threatening drug or alcohol overdoses. In such cases, the students named will be protected from disciplinary action by the Academy’s Sanctuary policy. The recommendation for the new rule was made by the school’s lawyers during a series of workshops on how administrators can gather information effectively. Other significant changes to The Blue Book include modifications to the Academy’s Authorized Use Policy (AUP), which governs the use of technology resources on campus. Recognizing that the school’s network can never be used exclusively for academic purposes, as the previous version of The Blue Book mandated, the updated edition states that the network may be used for “incidental personal use.” Director of Technology & Telecommunications Valerie Roman explained the addition, writing in an e-mail that “[The clause was added to the AUP] to recognize that, although it is technically not an academic use, doing such things as sending e-mail to a friend or family member is acceptable.” However, the AUP also requires that personal use “must not interfere with the community member’s performance or the community’s ability to use the resources for professional and academic purposes,” according to Mrs. Roman. A series of guidelines concerning the use of technology in academic settings was also included in this year’s Blue Book. Student use of cellular telephones and pagers in public buildings and classrooms is now prohibited, and students are urged to learn the “essential skills” necessary to limit their time on the Internet and Instant Messenger. “Students need to be really cautious about how the use technology now,” Ms. Edwards said. “[When speaking on cell phones] people can sometimes forget they are in a public place.” Parent concerns regarding off-campus activities led the administration also to include a rule that requires a parent to be present when boarding students are visiting day student homes. Described as a “parietal policy” for day students, Ms. Edwards recognized the inherent difficulty of enforcing such a rule, explaining that “this is a statement we are making to parents and students that this is our expectation.” The new version of The Blue Book also prohibits students from gambling for money while on campus. A result of incidents involving gambling during the 2002-2003 school year, the new rule is intended to prevent students from becoming entangled in a “very serious situation,” according to Ms. Edwards. The Dean of Students Office will also look to individual house counselors for assistance in enforcing the new rule. The portion of the Blue Book describing leaves of absence from the school has also been edited to include eating disorders and self-mutilation among the reasons a student may be asked to leave campus. According to Ms. Edwards, the Graham House Counseling staff added the change in an attempt to be more specific about the reasons a student may be asked depart from campus to seek medical or psychological care. Among other additions to the current Blue Book is a clarification of the extra personal time granted to Proctors and Prefects, as well as new sections regarding off-campus employment, the dormitory housing lottery, course and teacher assignments, and bomb threats. A clarification of the appeals process for disciplinary actions rounds out the additions. The Blue Book is released at the beginning of each academic year by the Dean of Students Office and is updated regularly to reflect the faculty’s expectations of the Academy’s students.