Student discipline in a boarding school is always going to be a contentious issue. Those in favour of a liberal approach, particularly in view of the fact that KYUEM is a school for young adults, will prefer that rules be kept to a minimum. Others, recognising that our students are still relatively naive and inexperienced, will want a stricter code of conduct.
As Headmaster, it is my task to try and build consensus and find some kind of middle way that satisfies most people. You cannot run a school of this size and complexity without a clear set of rules and regulations. If you try to manage without them, the result will be chaos and anarchy. In any case, part of our job here is to prepare young people for independent life in the adult world. All sophisticated societies are governed by the rule of law. I like to think of KYUEM as such a society in miniature – a preparation for life, if you like. As such, we must have our own laws, and the maintaining of those laws then becomes a key element of the way the school is managed.
The purpose of my blog post today is to make you aware of KYUEM rules concerning life outside the classroom. For much of their free time, our students are to be found in their chalets (or apartments) and it is specifically their behaviour in this environment on which I wish to focus my attention.
In the student handbook (page 13) it clearly states that students must be in their chalets by 11.30 pm. The word “curfew” has negative connotations, but in view of the fact that I am aware that many students are in breach of this rule, I need to reinforce it. From now on, any student found outside his/her accommodation after 11.30 pm will be reported to Student Services. Obviously, in the case of emergencies, or when prior permission has been granted, this rule will not apply, but for the most part, we need students to be in their own chalets or apartments by 11.30 pm every night.
A key phrase in the last paragraph is “in their own chalets or apartments.” Frequently, students visit each other and stay up late, working or revising together and then the visitor may decide not to go home. I must insist that this practice ceases with immediate effect. Students all know that one of my key areas of interest is needing to know precisely where everyone is at any time of the day – students, teachers, support staff, etc. – in the event of an emergency such as a fire. Also, we require every chalet and apartment to be locked at all times. Safety and security of possessions can only be ensured if personal property is always kept under lock and key.
We are very fortunate at KYUEM in that the vast majority of students are mature and well behaved. This does not mean, however, that we don’t have individuals who occasionally like to rebel or refuse to accept the rules. In such cases, we have to have an expected code of conduct. There has to be a system of punishment on the rare occasions when breaches of acceptable behaviour occur. Starting immediately, a first offence of any kind will be reported to Student Services. The staff may decide to issue a verbal warning, or ask me to do so. A second offence will mean being required to stay behind for what I am calling a “Headmaster’s Detention.” Offenders will have to remain after class for at least one hour doing a task for me (probably some form of written work such as an essay). I sincerely hope there will be no need for a third offence, but if it ever occurs, then the matter will be referred to a College Disciplinary Committee (page 25 of the Student Handbook). The committee may wish to involve parents or sponsors in their deliberations, and, in case it may be thought that these procedures are all weighted against the student, may I also point out that the handbook details a Grievance Procedure (page 26) if anyone feels s/he has been unfairly treated.
I am absolutely convinced that the number of disciplinary cases at KYUEM in any one year will be very small, and even then, will consist of minor infringements. Nonetheless, if rules are in place, they are there to be followed at all times. If they are not, then there is no point in having rules in the first place.
I hope and believe that everyone can see the rationale behind our rules and why we all have to obey them. More than anything else, they will serve as an excellent preparation for life beyond the KYUEM campus as our students prepare themselves for living and studying overseas or away from home.