Disciplinary Committee Strives to Maintain Student Well-Being

The Disciplinary Committee (DC) is the cornerstone of the disciplinary system at Andover. It’s a rigorous and meticulous process that strives to prioritize student well-being, but one that has come under fire from students in recent weeks.

At the beginning of this Winter Term, Cluster Deans and Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, conducted a dorm-wide search in Taylor Hall in response to a number of incidents committed by students of the dorm involving alcohol, tobacco products and illicit drugs over the course of the Fall Term and a group of over 50 students petitioned Head of School John Palfrey and faculty to reconsider a former student’s disciplinary outcome.

Although the idea of a dorm-wide search was not chosen lightly, Elliott hoped it would send a clear message to students that the possession and use of illicit substances are not tolerated on campus.

“We elected to take that course because we hoped it would help kids make better choices and lead to fewer DC’s – no one is looking to DC kids… But I think kids should know that when we know about rule-breaking, we’re going to follow up on it; we’re not going to ignore it or walk away,” said Elliott.

Rather than punishing students for rule-breaking, the DC process is designed to help students learn from their mistakes and to provide an opportunity for reflection and growth, several faculty members said.

“The point of a DC is to be educational and to offer an opportunity for a student to reflect upon his or her decision-making and to think about how to make better choices moving forward. Andover’s disciplinary process rests at its core… in the belief that kids learn from their mistakes and that kids, with proper reflection, supervision and deliberate and proactive adjustment, will learn,” said Elliott.

This past Fall Term saw a total of nine DCs, far less than the 23 DCs of the Fall Term of 2014. The Fall Term of 2013 saw only two.