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Volume 65 Number 3

Understanding Major School Rule #11

by Meg Knox - 2014-12-18

When is the last time you, as a citizen of the United States and of Chadwick School, thought about or tested your rights? I have a feeling very few of you have actually read the Constitution or even attempted to express your constitutional rights (I for one have often waved my freedom of speech in the name of civility or fear of punishment).

In going along with this theme, a more terrifying notion arises: Chadwick provides major school rules and an Upper School Student Body Constitution yet virtually no students even know about or acknowledge the existence of the only two works that outline student’s rights.

Although the Honor code, arguably the governing body at the school, seeks to protect student’s freedom, the lack of fundamental knowledge regarding major school rules and our school’s Constitution reveal that student’s need to become more informed of their rights and how the administration affects students’ lives.

Chadwick’s Major School Rule #11 resembles that of the U.S. Constitution’s Necessary and Proper Clause also known as the “elastic clause.” Major School rule #11 states that “Behavior which damages the reputation and well-being of the school” will directly result in punishment and/or immediate dismissal.

Major school rule #11’s broad language and the potential for subjective interpretation resembles the elastic clause which states that the “The Congress shall have Power ... To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.”

The framers of the Constitution added this clause in order to render the Government powerful beyond the specified rights of the Constitution. However, the tenth amendment reconciled the complete power of the clause by stipulating that the federal government’s power only extends as far as the specific powers in the Constitution, and therefore the remaining rights are reserved for the states and the people.

The Elastic Clause and the tenth amendment have continued to reveal tensions between the federal and state level governments, yet at Chadwick, only Major School Rule #11 survives without any check or balance to its power. Since the major school rules guide a student’s future here at Chadwick, students have a right, similar to our tenth amendment right, to utilize the power reserved to the students to create a standard that protects against possible manipulations of major school rule #11.

If we think back to the recent chemical health or neighborhood parking scandals, Mr. Wiedenmann has threatened “wielding a big stick” in his punishment by enforcing major school rule #11.

Our Upper School Student Constitution needs to place student’s liberty and rights at the forefront while simultaneously working towards countering the absolute, authoritarian power the administration potentially has.

I propose that we rework our Upper School Student Constitution to encompass more than just structural ideas.

At this point, the Upper School Constitution outlines procedure in which student council is comprised, duties of class officers, upholding of the honor council, and administrative veto power. No articles illustrate rights of students or limitations in the administration’s power in the lives of students.

However, Article V outlines the process of amendments and revisions to the Chadwick’s Constitution by getting one-sixth of the student body to sign a petition and one half voting majority to make a change. I challenge the student body to question the explicit and implicit power of the administration over the student’s lives.

Although I am not attempting to incite a revolution at Chadwick, I am urging students to analyze the easily manipulated power of Major School rule #11 and the ways in which we can reconcile that power with a more student-rights based Constitution.



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Article Keywords:

chadwick, school, constitution, major, upper, student, body, administration, rule, clause, power, amendment, state, right

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