STAFF EDITORIAL: Detention needs to include accountability


Illustration: Sabrina Rucker

The detention system needs to provide a stiffer punishment for offenders.

The Upper School detention system is broken. It is an old system for an old problem and it needs to be fixed from a loosely organized, student driven, and unproductive form of punishment to an opportunity to build the community up. That is why the administration should alter the detention policy to impose a more tangible consequence to deter students skipping class. Additionally, the penalty should not just be a slap on the wrist, but something restorative that helps the community.

Currently, the SPA detention requires students with a Detention Notice to sit in Room 206 in the math area for 45 minutes. The first student to arrive becomes the proctor and gets credit for two detentions. Officially, students are supposed to sign a sheet placed at the table in the front of the room and stay for the full duration of detention. However, rarely does any adult check in on the room, making it very easy for students to simply sign the sheet and walk out. Without any oversight for detention, the intended consequence for students skipping class simply isn’t there.

Skipping class isn’t just an SPA issue, however it should not be a problem here. Tuition for the 2017-18 school year in the US is $28,990, approximately $3600 per month, $800 per week, $160 per day, $40 per block. Yet, upper school students still skip. To address this problem, the administration needs to increase the consequences for students, because students who skip add to teacher workload and detract from the consistent preparation of their peers in class.

As the school year transitions from the fall to spring semester, it is the perfect time to do this, students who skip should make up the lost time by giving it back to the teacher or department. Every student has a free period, so if a student skips class, they should lose that free period and, instead of attending detention, they should have to give that block to the community. This could be done through an online forum or a poster outside Dean Delgado’s office with tasks to complete. The tasks should be anything that needs to be done around the school that is not necessary for a teacher to do.

For example, if papers in the art wing need to be reorganized, a student could be the one to help do that job. If the weather is nice and weeds in the Lilly Courtyard need to get pulled, students could be the ones to pull them. There are a lot of tasks around the school that students who skip class could complete in a block to benefit the school, and not being able to use the time however the student would choose definitely provides more of a deterrent for students considering skipping a class.

This eliminates many of the problems of the current detention system. Most notable is that the current system has very little oversight and very little proof of service for the detention. This system would not bring in extra oversight, but it creates more proof of service because the nature of the system is that students complete a task.

The Discipline Committee could be proactive part of the process and take on the issue. For years DC Chair speeches have all talked about being proactive and providing a solution to the skipping class problem and this would certainly do that. DC could ask teachers and staff for the work that would go on the sign up sheet, as an example.

This all comes back to the idea that students should be in every one of their classes. Consequences should not be necessary to get students to class. But if they are, the consequences need to make up for the time, not just mark time.

Students need to show up for class, and since the current detention system is clearly not deterrent enough, the system needs to change. This cannot be a system that is just punitive; it must be productive and help those whose time is wasted when their peers skip.

The administration and the DC need to act in order to fix this system.