Disciplinary dealings need student voice


Ace Zhang

Editorial Board

When beloved science teacher Daniel Bobo-Jones was fired last month, many U-High students felt angry, heartbroken and betrayed. They expressed their outrage through petitions and colorful protest posters, not out of pettiness, but in response to growing necessity. Across U-High, students are desperate for a voice in school proceedings.

Despite recent circumstances, our institution was founded on the belief that student input ought to be welcomed and encouraged. Untouched by administrative oversight, the Discipline Review Board represented that final frontier. When it was effectively suspended for 2018-19, the outcry that ensued wasn’t hard to comprehend. With unchecked administrative power, distrust and corruption often follow. The presence of a Discipline Review Board, operated cooperatively by administration, students and faculty, is essential to a fair and cohesive community.

Initially, it seemed the election of new students was put off to address legal concerns with the student handbook’s description of the board, as well as what Principal Stephanie Weber described as “best practices” for independent schools. However, it’s been several months since a lawyer recommended these adjustments, and since then, no update has been given. In fact, the section pertaining to the board has been removed entirely.

If student privacy is at the root of administrators’ concern, we urge them to consider this: no student is compelled to appeal their punishment to the board, and those who decide to do so knowing their case will be thoroughly examined by a group of both teachers and other students. The board does not exist as a guaranteed disciplinary proceeding, but as a third party, called upon when a student feels their circumstances are inadequately understood by the administration.

No matter who’s in charge, students will always be reluctant to surrender their will to a remote body of all-powerful adults. In order to foster balanced, adequately informed perspectives, our administration emphasizes diversity. Surely, student voice has a place in this initiative, as our peers contribute unique and valuable insight. If our administration truly values justice, not absolute control, they should seek our input in disciplinary proceedings.

U-High has a thoughtful, curious, and deeply critical student body, and ignoring our input will not affect this foundational truth. In fact, dismissal will inevitably lead to louder, more hostile criticism. Lately, our administration has placed strong emphasis on community, but if the community they seek cannot exist without our silence, we doubt students will want to engage in it.

This editorial represents the opinion of the Midway’s Editorial Board.