Student Discipline: Exceptions or Policy Changes?

In many educational settings, there are people who hold the responsibility for student discipline.  I have the honor of having worked in a few different settings where I had some of that responsibility.  Of course, being a Residence Hall Director at a large public university, a student conduct coordinator at a small college, a director of summer programs for high school students, and a Dean of Students at a boarding school (and other roles) have given me different views of, and authority over, student discipline.  However, there are a lot of parallels in terms of challenges faced.

One of the many challenges that I have seen and heard from other student conduct people is about the pressure to make exceptions to the way discipline is done and/or to the consequences given.  When are exceptions appropriate?  Are they ever? How does standard procedure fit with educational discretion?  What about due process?

If exceptions are needed or wanted, consider making a policy change.  If you are making an exception, is it one you can write into policy? If not, why not?  Perhaps you should not make the exception if your organization is uncomfortable writing it into the student code of conduct?  


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