by Nick Lednicky
Eagle Editorial Board
Now that Dean of Students Mike McConnell’s retirement has been announced, it is time to look to the future.
Despite the various mumblings of students in the hallways about who they suspect will replace McConnell, nothing has been decided, let alone announced.
No dean will be able to fill the shoes of McConnell, who we have all come to know – some of us more than others – and love.
McConnell had his own personal approach on punishment and knew how to get the point across without prescribing an obnoxious punishment that ultimately did nothing to help the student.
This is not to say McConnell was lenient, but he understood how to effectively redirect people in order to make them reform, instead of forcing fruitless punishments that did nothing besides make the student angry.
This being said, change is coming. This change has the potential to be a bad one, since the new dean could be someone who is unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to the mind of a 17-year-old kid at an all-boys school and over-punishes him.
No single person will be able to react to things like McConnell did. No successor will be able to fill the shoes of McConnell, and the new guy will naturally have to follow some sort of a learning curve.
However, the change of deans also has the potential to be a good change.
We, as students, have the most experience with McConnell and his ways of discipline.
It is because of this experience that a Student Honor Board would be a good addition to our school.
This proposed board would help give the new dean what the students believe to be an accurate representation of how the student body as a whole feels about certain actions.
With the formulation of a Student Honor Code that encompasses behavior both inside and outside the classroom, students would be able to have a concrete guideline to follow, both in choosing their actions and in judging the actions of their peers.
Also, the honor code could replace the unsightly “Cheating!” posters in every room that make it appear as if our school was cursed with a cheating epidemic.
I am not saying that there should be no dean or that the fate of a student should be determined solely by his peers’ opinion of his actions.
Rather, I am convinced that the students have the best bearing on what it is like to be in that person’s shoes and what the most effective punishment would be for him.
It is because of this experience and inherent emphatic concern that students have on their peers that a Student Honor Board would be an effective means of helping the new dean to acclimate.
A student jury could be confidentially informed on the specifics of a particular incident and provide the dean with information on what they believe would be an appropriate punishment.
Many major universities in the country have an honor code that is central to the way students act at school, and now, more high schools across the country are beginning to institute them.
Since St. Thomas is a college-prep school, we should be prepared for college not only academically, but in terms of being an honorable, contributing, upright student (let we not forget: “Honor and truth and understanding …”).
Colleges have these Student Honor Boards, so we should too, in order to prepare us for college more than just academically.
Obviously, there are many details that would have to be worked out.
The general idea is this: a panel of fellow students of all grades would advise the new dean how the student body generally feels about a particular action, with a suggestion of how the action should be punished.
This board would help guide students to make better and more conscientious decisions at school and would help the dean transition into his new role.