The school has published the updated edition of The Almanac for the 2019-20 school year, accompanying this publication is a series of rule changes effective on returning to campus. In general, there were fewer changes this year, especially compared to last year’s significant interdorming regulation revision. However, there are still a few changes that should be noted.
Updated Policy on Unexcused Absences (Pg 29-30)
Most notably, each unexcused absence past a student’s second infraction will now result in a two-hour detention. This change effectively negates the change made in the 2016-17 school year, when detentions were reduced from 4 hours to 2 hours in length. The changes over the past 3 iterations of Unexcused Absence response are shown in the graph below.
As shown in the graph, a student will be serving double the number of hours in detention when compared to last year’s policy, by his or her fifth absence. In addition, some of these detentions will be served on nights before classes, as Wednesday night detention was instituted in the Spring of 2019. (There was no indication that this policy will be discontinued in either the announcement email or the updated Almanac, so it must be assumed that this policy is still in effect for Fall 2019.)
Change to What Constitutes a Major Offense (Pg 40)
In previous years’ almanacs, Major Offense B has considered “failing to disclose relevant information” a punishable offense, but a minor change to the introduction of the Community Regulations section of The Almanac has expanded that definition to include the failure to report a breach of a Major Offense. The Almanac now states: “Students who discover a peer or group of peers committing Major Offenses and do not leave the scene immediately, or fail to contact an adult about the issue, may be held equally responsible and may share equally in any disciplinary response.” This means that any student who fails to report witnessing a violation of the No-Chance Policy, regardless of the length of their observation, is eligible to be punished “equally” with the perpetrator in the actual offense of the No-Chance Policy. While it is unknown how this particular offense will be used by either the Disciplinary Committee or the Community Conduct Council, the specification of punishment for a witness without any mention of protections for the witness could cultivate a culture of fear and “narcing” for the Hotchkiss Community. The lack of ability to anonymously report events will place a burden on the witness in terms of social backlash that could accompany a report.
Removal of Dean of Students Position (Throughout)
While there has been no formal announcement of the removal of this position, it is worth noting that throughout the newest edition of The Almanac all instances of the title “Dean of Students” have been removed. The majority of the Dean of Students’ responsibilities have been transferred to the Dean of Community Life. This changes the main focus of the Dean of Community Life’s role to a more solid position within the administration. In the previous year, the Dean of Community Life had taken some of the Dean of Students’ responsibilities including serving on the Disciplinary Committee, The Readmission Team, and a non-voting member of the CHAS. This amounts to a two-year process of changing the title of Dean of Students to Dean of Community Life.
Room Decoration Rules Amended (Pg 20)
Similar to the change to what constitutes a major offense, this change is not necessarily a new rule, but rather a clarification of an existing rule. The rule forbidding the use of empty alcoholic beverage containers or other No-Chance Policy paraphernalia has been expanded to forbid students from having posters/art depicting those items. Alumnus and Former Editor-in-Chief Harry Roepers ‘19, whom due to his artwork depicting a Heineken beer bottle felt obligated to speak on the matter, said of the change: “I believe this discourages and limits the creativity in the process of producing artwork. Art is a form of expression and for the administration to put a boundary to that seems unjust and unnecessary.”
The Student-Body Presidents have been notified of the changes this article discusses and plan to meet as early as this afternoon, August 27. If you would like to respond to the changes, please email The Opinions Editors or The President of The Record.
If you would like to read the documents yourself, this link goes to a folder containing this and last year’s Almanac along with a document showing changes made between the two editions. For the best viewing experience open these documents with Adobe Acrobat.