I write to introduce the Judicial Log on the Dean of the College website. This log lists descriptions, dates, and judicial outcomes related to incidents on campus that result in official College discipline against students (typically disciplinary probation or suspension). The log includes outcomes of our two judicial boards (the Academic and the Community Judicial Boards) and includes sanctions administered by College deans. The names of students and other clearly identifying information are not included.
The purpose of the log is to keep the community informed about these important and critical incidents. In the past, some community members have complained, rightly I think, that serious events occur on campus, students or others are negatively impacted, articles are written or forums organized, and yet the College’s investigation and response become veiled in claims of confidentiality and secrecy. Those affected are left to wonder whether College officials took the incident seriously, whether they followed up, whether those who violated our community agreements, values and policies are held responsible.
The log is a response to such concerns—though not the only or last response. It is not meant to be voyeuristic or petty or retaliatory, though these are certainly dangers. Admittedly, in a small community such as ours we are rightfully cautious not to gratuitously embarrass or humiliate those who make mistakes. We are a learning and teaching community where honest mistakes ought to be as normative as accomplishments. We must be free to make them without public humiliation.
Yet embarrassment and humiliation are important emotions, and as a community we are not charged with protecting each other from what is real and appropriate. We do no one good by pretending that serious errors in judgment are not happening, or that mistakes do not have meaningful consequences.
Thus, this modest page is one step toward openness and engagement about painful or troubling events that happen in our midst – recognizing, of course, that we highlight our accomplishments as individuals and as a community in many other forums. Frankly, I hope the log stimulates increased conversation about the kind of community we want to share together.
I admit that deciding just how to write up the incidents is difficult—how not to say too little or too much. I am working on that problem, with help from other deans and administrators. We invite your comments about our attempts and about the log in general, and we will adjust our efforts in response to your ideas and suggestions.
Feel free to comment about the web log on the Dean of the College blog, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.