Book vs. Person

As reported in “Senior Dismissed After Refusing First Breathalyzer Test Request” this week, Chris Massie ’10 was dismissed after refusing to take a breathalyzer test on Friday, which the Blue Book defines as a positive test. Due to the confidential nature of disciplinary proceedings and the ambiguity of what constituted Massie’s “behavior, presentation or circumstance,” The Phillipian cannot comment on whether or not Massie’s situation warranted the implementation of the breathalyzer policy. However, we can comment on the inflexibility of the Disciplinary Committee process. The Disciplinary Committee recommended a second term of probation without dismissal, a divergence from the Blue Book’s rule. And Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, did not follow this suggestion, instead following the Blue Book interpretation that two probationary offenses are means for dismissal. It is perfectly reasonable for Murphy to adhere to the Blue Book. It’s his job. But the system outlined in the Blue Book is not necessarily a just one. There’s a reason that the convicted go to trial before they go to jail, and there’s a reason for the D.C. system. There’s a reason that disciplinary offenses do not lead directly to punishments but lead instead to a close examination of the specific situation and the circumstances of each individual disciplinary offense. When Massie delivered his statement to the Disciplinary Committee, when the members of the D.C. deliberated and discussed his individual situation and when the committee’s recommendation was delivered in response to his individual situation, we, as an institution, upheld our belief in the necessity of case-to-case disciplinary assessment. That is, until the final verdict was decided. If PA, as an institution, believe in the D.C. system, if we believe in the necessity of reflection and if we believe in the individual students that attend Phillips Academy, then we must believe in the consideration of discipline on an individual basis. The Blue Book is the law, but it is not the trial and it is not the final verdict. We cannot pass judgment on why Murphy considered but ultimately disagreed and disregarded the Disciplinary Committee’s suggestion to place Massie on a second term of probation. The Blue Book does not call for a second term of probation, considers refusal to take a breathalyzer as a positive test and would have dismissed Massie from the get-go. If Phillips Academy will always adhere to Blue Book’s rules as iron stipulations, then The Phillipian would suggest the entire elimination of the D.C. system. If it is the Blue Book and not the Disciplinary Committee that determined the result of Massie’s D.C., then forget the farce and stop pretending that discipline is considered on a personal basis. If that is the case, then Phillips Academy adheres to its rules, not its principles. Just place the Blue Book up on the podium across the kid reading his personal statement. This editorial represents the views of the Editorial Board CXXXII.