The basic issue concerning violations or rules and regulations of the college is the failure of students to realize and appreciate that certain fundamental rules and regulations are necessary in any community. The solution to this problem -- the realization on the part of each student of the demands of a society -- is in part centered on the fact that discipline should be an internal nature, coming from within each person.
To arrive at this desired state, discipline must be considered as a tool, used in conjunction with mature guidance, rather than a threat. Primarily, discipline should be re-educative and preventative. If certain restrictions or punitive responses will aid in the attainment of these goals then they may be employed. At the same time, punishment should never be levied for its own sake. As educational disciplinarians we attempt to find out why a student misbehaved. After determining motive we explain the reason the regulation or rules exist and why the student was disorderly in disregarding them. We appeal to the student's sense of reason and responsibility.
Discipline is used with the goal of re-educating the student - to help him or her see that further infractions are really senseless, not because he or she is afraid of the punitive consequences but because of the realization that such actions aren't in accord with the college community. This is a process in which the student LEARNS. This is the basis, then, of the disciplinary function.
When a student disregards a regulation or policy of the college, s/he has a reason for doing so. The primary purpose of re-education is to uncover this reason, show the student why it is inconsistent with the college community, aid the student in coming to the realization that certain regulations are necessary and that as a member of the society s/he must abide by them, take what consequences may result from not doing so, or find necessary channels through which to change them. In other words, we are attempting to assist the student in the process of retraining and reorienting attitude with respect to his or her social, ethical, personal or religious development.
The student should realize that as a member of society s/he has a responsibility to conform to certain standards for group living to the extent that his or her actions are beneficial rather than detrimental to the progress of both himself or herself and the group. Rights of all students must be respected. This is but a reflection of our dedication to fair play.
The student who has behaved inappropriately should learn from the experience that results from the re-education process.
Re-education is quite different from suppression. The former attempts to locate and correct the root trouble while the latter only removes the symptom without resolving the cause.
Each behavioral indiscretion must be viewed as a separate entity due to the fact of the individuality and uniqueness of each person. No two people are identical. It follows that the actions of two different people, while similar in themselves, will have different and often opposite motives.
The student should arrive at the conclusion that in the process of growing with experience, discipline has to be self-imposed. The responsibility of successfully mastering the complexities of life is basically the responsibility of the individual.
The above is used with permission by John Murphy, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs, SUNY Albany.