Murphy Has Final Say on Dismissal and Suspension Decisions

Most disciplinary responses on campus are left to a Disciplinary Committee’s discretion, but in situations that warrant a suspension or dismissal, the DC makes a recommendation to the Dean of Students, who then makes the final decision. The Blue Book states, “Although consensus is the goal and usual outcome of a DC, the [cluster] dean, who serves as chair of the committee, has responsibility for all final decisions except suspension or dismissal. In such cases, the committee’s recommendation is passed on to the Dean of Students, who reviews and finalizes the decision.” Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, said, “Let’s say a DC recommended suspension. The DC doesn’t make that decision. It’s a recommendation to me, and I either accept it or don’t accept it.” “The way the system is set up, the Dean of Students doesn’t get involved in any discipline responses unless there is a separation from the school involved,” Murphy added. The school dismissed Chris Massie ’10 last Wednesday after his Flagstaff Cluster DC recommended that he receive a second probation for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, as The Phillipian reported last week. Massie said he refused the test for ethical reasons. Blue Book policy states that two probationary offenses lead to a dismissal. Clyfe Beckwith, Dean of Flagstaff Cluster, said while the DC’s recommendations always fall within the parameters set by the Blue Book, sometimes the DC makes other accompanying suggestions. Massie’s DC concluded that his refusal to take a breathalyzer test upon the request of the cluster deans warranted a probationary offense, in line with Blue Book policy. Murphy’s final decision to dismiss Massie after he acquired a second probation from the DC would therefore fall under the Blue Book policy that two probationary offenses must lead to a dismissal. Murphy said that during his time as Dean of Students, he has followed the recommendation of the DC each time. As per school policy, administrators could not publicly comment on Massie’s disciplinary case. Murphy said, “It’s an exceptionally rare situation where a dean wouldn’t accept the recommendation of the DC.” “Having been a cluster dean for six years, I think our DC system is very good,” he continued. Murphy said that the DC’s “consensus-based process” is advantageous because the committee gets to hear from five different people, including two Seniors who provide a student perspective in the DC. Murphy said he uses the Blue Book more than any other document as his guide when making decisions. “I just follow the Blue Book. The Blue Book is our document. It’s not like someone’s telling us what to do. It’s the school response to breaking school rules. I think you’re in trouble if you start breaking your procedures,” Murphy said. He continued, “I live by this book. I didn’t make the rules, and I don’t make the procedures. They have been put in place over time with lots of consultation. It’s very rigid, but otherwise people can’t count on anything.” Chad Green, Dean of West Quad North, said, “Individual DC committees come up with a specific response that is standard, and there may be additional stipulations put on with that response.” Green cited adding a week of restriction to a censure as one instance of additional stipulations to a standard disciplinary response. Beckwith said, “Let’s say that we [decide a student deserves a] warning for not signing into the dorm. Warning is warning, but maybe you add restriction to it too. Every DC is unique. We’re trying to come up with what we think is a fair and consistent response.” In a disciplinary decision that does not involve a student’s dismissal or suspension, the dean presiding over the DC can decide what response to take and if any further suggestions are necessary. Beckwith said that suggestions could include writing an apology to the person a student offended or consulting a counselor. The dean that chairs the DC is usually the student’s cluster dean, unless the cluster dean is personally involved in the case and thus cannot remain impartial during the DC. Alex Salton contributed reporting.