Disagreements and Discipline

Solving Disagreements

People are people, and disagreements can happen. When faced with a disagreement—whether with a fellow Apprentice or a member of staff or faculty, work through the following steps:

 

1. First and foremost, don’t gossip about the issue! The only person who you should talk to about it at this stage is the other person involved! Gossip in this situation is rude, unethical, and raises the likelihood of anger and ill feelings, as well as things being blown out of proportion. This leads to the “grab a torch and let’s burn the castle” mentality, which is never helpful.

 

2. Go back and review the Handbook sections on “Netiquette” and “Communication” and proceed as best you can. Try to speak directly with the person you’re conflicted with. Do this by email: it’s inappropriate to air dirty laundry on the forums.

 

3. If the situation doesn’t resolve, work through the appropriate chain of command to try and settle it. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your Head.

 

4. Whatever route you take to solution, please respect the privacy and dignity of all parties. Again: don’t gossip! (Translation: don’t discuss the problem with other people who are not involved! It’s not their business!)

 

5. Always try to solve the issue with the person directly involved. Only if this doesn’t work should you go up the ladder one rung to the next level. For instance, if unable to resolve a problem with a Lodge member, go to your Head. If unable to come to an agreement with a teacher, consult the department Dean. (and so forth)

 

6. If you exhaust all options, the problem may be turned over to the GSW Administration for mediation (see below).

 

Apprentice Discipline

Discipline is handled by different people in different contexts:

 

• Forum moderators have the ability and authority to manage content on the forums they supervise. This includes editing and/or removing questionable content.

 

• Prefects and Captains assist in maintaining discipline on the forums. Captains, in particular, are authorized to act independently in resolving issues, and do so with the full backing of the GSW Administration.

 

• Teachers are responsible for their cyber-classrooms; if an Apprentice is rude or misbehaves in some way that directly affects the teacher or other Apprentices, it's the teacher’s responsibility to deal with that, and pass it upwards if they can't.

 

• The HEad of Lodges oversee all Apprentices in the Lodge system and are responsible for dealing with misbehavior in the Lodge forums. If any faculty or staff member has a general problem with an Apprentice, the Head of Lodges is the right place to begin the resolution process. The Head of Lodges is assisted by the Captain.

 

• Clubs are the responsibility of the Club Adviser and Apprentice President, who handle problems in the club's forum or other activities.

 

• Most forums have a staff or faculty moderator. This person is responsible for managing discipline on the forum, as needed. If no staff or faculty member is assigned, the matter would be handed up to the appropriate Administrator.

 

• The Dean of Students and Assistant Dean of Students have the final responsibility in non academic Apprentice discipline, while the Dean of Curriculum and Assistant Dean if Curriculum have the final responsibility in academic disciplinary issues. As with all things, discipline should be handled at the lowest possible level in the chain (web, really) of command. A quiet word from Prefect or Captain will often suffice; Apprentice leadership is preferable to adult mandate. If not, there are various faculty who should respond, depending on their area of oversight. By the time Administration has to get involved, the matter is serious; we really try to avoid this.

 

As noted above, Prefects and Captains have the authority to intervene in arguments, forum disturbances, etc. If a Prefect or Captain talks to you about any kind of disturbance, listen to him or her. 

We don't want to create an authoritarian atmosphere here in the Grey School, but we do want to instill in Apprentices ideas of common sense, civility, maturity, and self-control. These are vital qualities for a Wizard to possess. Magic is powerful, and in careless hands, it can be dangerous. So we don't teach hooligans how to blow their hands off or otherwise make messes that somebody else will have to clean up. We expect our Apprentices to behave responsibly -- and for the most part, they live up to those expectations.

Like all schools, we have a responsibility to create and maintain an environment that is pleasant, civil, and otherwise conducive to education. As an auxiliary school functioning in cyberspace, however, we don't have the same disciplinary options available to a conventional school. So we have to come up with other ideas. In particular, we have a range of options from minor to serious, so that we can respond to Apprentice antics with an equivalent degree of intensity.


Non-Academic Discipline and Probation

When a non-academic disciplinary issue cannot be managed through the usual chains of command, and/or when an Apprentice takes an action that is considered serious to the health or well being or to the Apprentice or someone close to them, the matter should be brought to the Dean of Students.

The Dean of Students will gather information, converse with those involved, and take an agreed upon action. Should a general agreement not be found among all parties, the Dean of Students will discuss the matter with the Asst. Dean of Students and/or Headmaster and determine a final action.

Some options that may be used include (in ascending levels of seriousness):

 

• Sending a warning letter to a youth Apprentice's parents.

 

• Asking the Apprentice to read or review appropriate sections of the General Handbook and complete an evaluative assignment.

 

• Assigning relevant assignments, such as readings, a reflective paper on ethics, a service task, etc.

 

• Requiring an Apprentice to take and complete a specific class.

 

• Removing an Apprentice from a club he or she currently belongs to, or from access to all clubs.

 

• Demoting an Apprentice from a leadership position or from a position of forum moderating.

 

• Revoking an Apprentice's forum privileges, either temporarily or permanently.

 

• Suspending the Apprentice from the GSW for a period of time.

 

• Expelling an Apprentice from the GSW.

 

Occasionally, suspension or expulsion may be used as a form of discipline. For example, a Apprentice might be suspended or expelled from the GSW for a period of several months to a few years and invited to return after acquiring additional experience or maturity.

 

Non-Academic Probation

When a disciplinary matter becomes serious enough that the Dean of Students is involved, specific remediation is required, and the Apprentice’s relationship to the school is changed temporarily, the results may qualify as “Non-Academic Probation.”

When an Apprentice is placed on non-academic probation, all assigned tasks or punishments must be completed within a specific time frame, after which the Apprentice’s status will be reevaluated by the Dean of Students and relevant personnel. Failure to complete the terms of the probation may lead to expulsion.

 

Staff, Faculty, and Administrative Discipline

For members of staff, faculty, and administration, discipline is handled by the person’s superiors and may include anything from mentoring to (in extreme cases) removal from the GSW.

 

Mediation

Mediation is a process in which an objective “third party” works with two or more disputing people to help them resolve their disagreement. In the GSW, mediation may involve members from any group: Apprentices, Apprentice leaders, staff, faculty, or administration.

In most cases, the appropriate Administrative member will direct the mediation; the administrator may also choose to assign the mediation to someone else as indicated.

Mediation should only be undertaken when all other attempts are reconciling the problem have been exhausted (see “Solving Disagreements", above). Before beginning mediation, all parties should have worked through the steps in “Solving Disagreements” and should have done their best to resolve the problem, or at least to find reasonable middle ground.

The goal of mediation is to create a workable solution. However, mediation may also involve discipline, with the same end results described above.

 

Disabling Apprentices Who “Flame” or Cause Disruption

When a member of the GSW does something really outrageous (i.e., acts threatening, flames, sends obscene emails, causes disturbances, etc.), that person’s site and forum access will be disabled temporarily. If an Apprentice sees any sort of outrageous activity take place, he or she should contact whichever faculty member seems to be available so that this can be handled. In this case, the Dean of Students and Forum Magus may be the best options, as they can quickly change individual settings.

This kind of temporary access block doesn't damage anything (i.e., doesn't delete people from the school roster, doesn't change an Apprentice’s record) and can easily be undone later. But as temporary "first aid," it makes it impossible for the offender to sign in and thus keeps him or her off the GSW site and forums, giving the faculty time to sort out the problem.

 

Dropped Apprentices

Apprentices who have not signed onto the GSW site or shown any activity for ≥(greater than or equal to) 12 months may be dropped from the Grey School roster for inactivity, i.e., their enrollment will be terminated. Apprentices who owe a tuition payment may also be dropped after a period of months. These are non-punitive dismissals; students will be welcomed back in the future, but will need to re-enroll and repay tuition at current first-year rates. Their transcripts will not be preserved.

 

Expulsion of  Apprentices

Apprentices who violate the school’s basic performance or behavior guidelines may be expelled. Grounds for potential expulsion from the Grey School:

 

• Postings or actions that suggest an inclination or threat to harm oneself or others inside or outside of the GSW.

 

• Postings or actions that suggest an inappropriate attachment or ‘stalking” of persons inside or outside of the GSW.

 

• Excessively rude and abusive language in communications with other faculty members, Administration, or Apprentices.

 

• Inappropriate postings to the faculty list or school forums that result in complaints from other faculty members and/or Apprentices.

 

• Repeated postings to the faculty list or school forums that are inappropriate in terms of the list or forum and persist after the Apprentice has been instructed in correct use.

 

• Posting of inappropriate or obscene images or language on the school site.

 

• Undue hostility or inappropriate resistance in response to queries, criticism, requests, requirements, or expressions of concern.

 

• Endangering the safety of persons inside or outside of the Grey School.

 

• Endangering the good reputation of the Grey School.

 

• Violating the GSW’s “Personal Contact Policies.”

 

• Other actions or situations as determined by the Administration.

 

Expulsions are recommended by one or more faculty members, reviewed by relevant members of the Administration, and authorized by the Headmaster. Expulsions are usually carried out by the Headmaster and/or the Dean of Students.

With rare exception, expulsion is considered permanent. Apprentices who are expelled “with cause” (i.e., persons who have carried out an egregious action) generally may not return to the GSW.