Council Debates Over Authority of School To Punish Students For Illegal Off-Campus Activities – Council Update (2/28/18)
On this last day of February, the Council meeting commenced with committee updates. One of these updates came from the Organizational Engineering Committee (OEC), in which they reported that they had invited Dean of Students Julie Stevenson to come talk about the new vaping policy that is being drafted by OEC. After that, Council moved on to the agenda.
The first item on the agenda was the Winter Carnival Ice Cream Money Allocation. Co-Treasurer Colm Seigne presented the motion in a somewhat sarcastic manner, as he was obviously disappointed that the junior class had not won winter carnival. The motion was to allocate up to $300 for an ice cream party for seniors for winning winter carnival. There was little debate on the motion and it passed unanimously.
Next on the agenda was the YPA allocation. The allocation was for $250 to YPA (Young Progressive Activists). Anoushka Alavilli, who was the member of YPA present at the meeting, discussed how YPA will try to stimulate conversation about guns in the school through activities such as writing postcards and creating posters to send to governors and both state and national Senators and House Representatives. Alavilli then clarified that the money was meant to pay for the 2000 postcards YPA was buying and for stamps as well. Co-Treasurer Seigne voiced his support for the allocation, saying that he was rather confident that many people would participate, making it a worthwhile cause. Assistant Moderator(AMOD) Jasper Meyer followed this by saying that he was also in support of the allocation because it didn’t seem partisan, but he did say that is raises a question about Council “getting political.” Community Representative Kirsten Elin also suggested that there be a poster that listed representatives, senators, and other public officials that might be worth writing to, so that this could prove to be a learning experience for students not only about activism, but also about who their representatives are. The allocation then passed unanimously.
This meeting also saw the continuation of the discussion from previous meetings surrounding the Intent Bylaw Motion. AMOD Meyer began the discussion by moving to amend that the motion so intent statements could only be amended in committee and not in general Council meetings. Teacher Representative Ms. Ceplikas quickly voiced her support for the amendment, saying that now Council wouldn’t get caught up in toying with the wording of intent statements. The amendment then passed unanimously.
After some more brief discussion surrounding the entire motion, voting began. Despite an effort by AMOD Meyer to make it a roll-call vote, Council voted to keep the vote at a hand count. There were only three abstentions and no opposing votes so the motion passed, but one abstention, Mr. Bourne, raised a point that Council quickly realized it had overlooked, which is that all money allocations will need intent statements as well.
The last thing on the agenda was Open Campus Handbook Revision. Senior Molly Cook was at the meeting to represent JCOM (Judiciary Committee), and explained to Council what the revision entailed. Cook explained that the revision came out of a JCOM case from before holiday break and that the revision was to clarify when the Dean of Students can punish people for things they do off campus. The revision states that the Dean can punish kids for illegal activity off campus or for condoning illegal activity. In addition, the revision would change the immediate penalty for such an infringement from a schedule up to revoking the guilty party of their off campus privileges. Staff Representative Ms. Price asked Cook if this would oblige students to report illegal activity their friends might be engaging in if they are not encouraging it, for which Cook responded no, saying that you can only be punished for being active in illegal activity and that a student must not report their friends for illegal activity.
The conversation continued and sophomore Representative Clay Kynor stated that he didn’t support the revision because he felt it would be easy manipulate what he thought was a loosely worded revision. Rep. Elin followed this up by posing the question of whether or not a kid posting a picture on social media of a friend vaping off campus would be punishable. She then reiterated that she felt it is difficult to police off campus activity fairly. Then, Principal Campbell, who was in attendance at the meeting, spoke up and reiterated to Council that there is a clear legal guideline for when to get involved in off-campus behavior, and that is when it causes a significant disruption in learning at the school. The final important point was made by the Dean of Students, Ms. Stevenson, who said that she was in support of the revision because it gives her a clear threshold for what is punishable off-campus activity. Illegal activity would be punishable, while bad behavior (for example) would not be.