This year I’ve decided to be a faculty representative on the Student Faculty Judiciary Committee (SFJC).
I’m sure I must have talked about SFJC before, because I went a lot last year. I was called in to answer questions about some cheating incidents that happened in my class, and I went in as an advocate to my advisees for a few different issues.
This committee, in my opinion, is one of the best things about my school. It is comprised of 8 students (two students from each grade, elected by their peers), 2 faculty representatives, and 1 faculty adviser. When students violate the community standards laid out in the student handbook — be it anything from chronic lateness to cheating to theft — students are referred to the SFJC. It’s scary for students: they see it as a judging by their peers.
However, from what I’ve seen when I was called before the SFJC to answer questions or when I was advocating for one of my advisees, I didn’t see anyone judging. Instead I saw a place where students are asked, by other students, to reflect on their actions.
Standard questions seemed to be: “Why do you think the rule was in place?”, “What went through your mind as you were breaking the rule?”, “Who was hurt by this violation?”, and “What actions have you taken, or do you intend to take, to prevent a repetition of the same action in the future?”
Discipline becomes a learning process.
After the hearing, the committee deliberates and makes a recommendation for consequences which goes to the administration, who then decides to accept it or send it back to the committee with potential changes outlined. Standard consequences are being put on warning, in-school suspensions, and out-of-school suspensions.
Students (and faculty!) have to arrive at school at 7:30am when there are cases. This adds up to a not unsubstantial amount of given up by the members. I was so impressed with the committee’s work last year that I nominated the committee for an award (for a person or club which promotes school values) — that it ended up winning. In the nomination form, I said that the SFJC members are the unsung heroes who conscientiously and selflessly provided the backbone to our community by enforcing its values.
Even though I dread the idea of waking up 15 minutes earlier, and I cringe at the idea that I won’t be able to make photocopies before school on the day with cases, I felt like it would be crazy not to be a representative on the committee this year. The work they do is so integral to the school, it is work with meaning, that it’s a sacrifice I think I’m happy to make. (We’ll see once I take my seat on the committee.)
The four hour training session for this year’s committee members happens tomorrow (Sunday), and cases I’m sure will be heard next week. Here’s to hoping that my idealism isn’t shattered when I see the process from the inside.