Updates to the Student Handbook for 2014-15

Each summer, we work to update and revise the student handbook, Rules and Expectations for Deerfield Academy Students. To ensure that members of the community are aware of these changes, I’d like to take this opportunity to share them with you. Students will receive the same information via email. These edits and additions vary widely and cover several different facets of student life. All will be included in the hard copy students receive in their registration packets at the start of the school year.

In order to align the handbook with current practice, we’ve removed the requirement that juniors and seniors must be in their rooms by 11pm each school night (after checking into their dorms at 9:45). It now reads:

Quiet Hours are in effect Sunday-Thursday from 7:45 pm until the start of classes the following day; during this time, access to the Lower Level and Meadows is prohibited, phone calls are discouraged, and students are expected to create an environment conducive to study.

With an eye on trends across the country, we have added the following to our drug and alcohol policy:

Please note: while possession and/or use of marijuana has been decriminalized or legalized in some states, the use and/or possession of marijuana continues to be prohibited by Deerfield Academy.

Though not new in practice, the following explicit statement about selling alcohol and illegal drugs on campus now appears in the same section:

Students who are found to have participated in the sale of alcohol or prohibited drugs on campus may be subject to immediate dismissal.

Based on both use and misuse of remote cameras and “drones” on campus last year, we’ve added the following:

Students should recognize that community members have varying degrees of comfort with their words and images being captured and/or posted online; they should consider others’ privacy and exercise discretion when capturing and sharing material. In this vein, wearable computing devices, hidden cameras, and other devices designed for surreptitious recording are prohibited. Students operating remotely controlled or automated cameras (e.g. GoPros, helicopters, timelapses, etc.) should exercise special care to protect the privacy of others.

Slight changes to the dress code are included here:

Deerfield employees are expected to hold students to these guidelines; students are expected to comply when asked to adjust their dress.

Girls Class Dress

Jeans are not permitted. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be of appropriate length; no bare shoulders or low necklines. When wearing pants, skirts, or shorts, girls must wear–not carry–two visible layers on top, one of which must be a blazer or sweater (not a fleece).

Boys Class Dress

Jeans are not permitted. Facial hair is not permitted. Boys must wear a sport-coat, tie, and a collared shirt–tucked in. Ties must be visible.

In the winter term only, a sweater (not a fleece) may replace a sport coat when worn with a collared dress shirt and a tie.

We’ve changed cell-phone confiscation from two days to one. All should expect our “discreet use” policy to be a clear priority.

Inappropriate use of a cell phone results in a one-day confiscation. Repeated infractions result in longer confiscations.

Setting clear guidelines for student sales and fundraising, we’ve augmented our statement on fundraising, sales, and gambling.

The Academy maintains relationships with several not-for-profit organizations and limits on-campus fundraising efforts only to those organizations. Academy resources–including Deerfield’s name, photographs, slogans, logos, websites, and printing/mailing facilities–should not be used to fundraise for other organizations. Only approved clubs and co-curricular groups may conduct sales and fundraise on campus; all fundraising and sales activities require approval of a club advisor and the Dean of Students Office. Gambling for money is prohibited.

Similarly, the expectation for intellectual property reads:

Students must request permission from the Communications Office for any use of Deerfield Academy’s name, logo, seal, photographs, or other official materials.

A new schedule and APs for online overnight forms went into effect early last fall, but they appear for the first time in this year’s hard copy:

Students who submit their requests after the Wednesday deadline but before Friday at 9am will receive four APs. After 9am Friday, all requests for overnights should be submitted to the School Officer in Charge (SOC) at 413-772-9070. Five APs will be assigned.

To clarify the Academy’s commitment to all students’ safety and well-being, and also its legal obligation in such matters, the following paragraph was added to the handbook’s section on statutory rape:

All cases of unwanted sexual contact and/or rape should be reported to the Dean of Students, the Dean of the Faculty or the Head of School. If there is reasonable suspicion that a student under 16 has engaged in intercourse, the Dean of Students has a legal obligation to report to the Department of Children and Families.

Deerfield’s Curriculum Committee established the following expectations for seniors:

Walking Privileges at Commencement

Seniors who fail to meet their obligations during spring term may lose the privilege of walking at graduation. At spring midterm, a committee–comprised of the Dean of Students or Class Dean, Academic Dean’s Office representative, and three Department Chairs–convenes to evaluate seniors. Concerns may include:

  • Lack of community engagement, or failure to meet expectations in residential life and/or daily commitments
  • Accumulation of AP’s (Level 2 Sanctions or above)
  • A drop of 5 or more points in a student’s cumulative average
  • A drop in course average of 10 or more points in a single year-long course
  • Any grade below 70%
  • Faculty concerns

If the committee identifies serious concerns, a formal letter is sent to the student and parents, setting expectations that must be met for the student to walk at commencement.

The committee convenes again in the last week of the term to make a final decision about walking privileges and makes a recommendation to the Head of School.

To ensure that it’s seen as accessible and approachable, we’ve changed the name of Harassment Panel. It will now be called the Community Conduct Committee and is referred to as such in the Hazing, Bullying and Harassment section. Mr. Pitcher and Ms. Loftus will serve as chairs:

Responding to Hazing, Bullying, & Harassment

Any student who believes that he or she is a victim of hazing, harassment, or mistreatment of any kind should contact a faculty member and either the Dean of Students or a member of the Community Conduct Committeeimmediately. The student involved then has two principal options to pursue:

  1. Students should contact a member of the Community Conduct Committee, which provides a forum to speak about possible responses to harassment or other kinds of mistreatment. This panel consists of faculty and staff members who help the student reach an outcome that addresses the situation. This process may preclude the usual disciplinary process and response.
  2. Students should report the situation to the Dean of Students Office, at which time a Discipline Committee may be convened to hear the allegations. In some cases, the Head of School or the Dean of Students may choose to form an ad hoc committee (which includes at least one member of the Community Conduct Committee) to hear the allegations and to assist in formulating a response. This ad-hoc process may preclude the usual disciplinary process and response.

Last spring, we piloted a new response to Level III sanctions, and we’ve now codified it for all future cases. That response now reads:

Level Three | 25+ APs per term for non-seniors | 30+ APs for seniors

A student who reaches Level III sanctions meet with their Class Dean and parents to examine the problem and form a solution. Further, the student will be subject to the following limits:

  • Required Friday study halls
  • Two weeks’ early check-in: 7:45pm Sunday–Thursday, 8pm on Saturday
  • Loss of off-campus travel and sleepover privileges for two weeks.
  • Ten hours of work detail

For additional support, counseling may be required. A student who fails to meet obligations after reaching Level III sanctions will be liable for further discipline, up to and including dismissal. Students who accumulate Level III APs for a second time will face a Disciplinary Committee hearing.

Under the Disciplinary Responses section, we’ve added two new and important philosophical statements. The first includes the Disciplinary Committee’s commitment to restorative practices, and the second notes that students’ honesty and integrity leading up to a disciplinary hearing could inflect the Committee’s response.

Students should note that violations of major school rules typically result in suspension as a part of the disciplinary response. Most responses will include restorative practices–a plan designed to restore the student’s place in the Deerfield community; these practices are determined by the members of the DC, on a case-by-case basis.

The manner in which students comport themselves–the accountability and honesty they show during the investigation and disciplinary process–will be weighed in determining the appropriate disciplinary response.

To make the process for returning to campus clear and transparent, we’ve added the following:

Returning to Campus

Students who withdraw (facing disciplinary action) or are dismissed may not return to campus for one calendar year, except with the explicit permission of the Dean of Students.

With new legislation for school anti-bullying policies recently signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a group of us continues to fine-tune this portion of the handbook. As well, we are refining some of the language on student on-campus fundraising. Final additions and edits will be included in this year’s hard copy.

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