The Judiciary Committee, a high school Stewardship group supervised by physics teacher Laura Haney, is made up of a group of students dedicated to “creating justice through equity and compassion in the Sequoyah community,” as said by Julian Suh-Toma, freshman chair of the committee. Cases are referred to the Judiciary Committee by the Community Norms Committee, a faculty group designated to address student issues. Suh-Toma said that they “are constantly working hard making sure they are educated about the United States’ very own judiciary system and learning how to apply it to cases they are given on campus.”
Geo Wood, a freshman member of the committee, outlined the differences between the Judiciary and Peer Mediation committees. Wood agreed that both Stewardship groups have similar intentions, but the Judiciary Committee focuses more on the consequences of the situation rather than determining whether the “offender really is guilty or not” in all types of situations. Though they do still listen to both sides of the case, they make sure rules are followed by the particular person and they “try to help them not repeat the same action again.”
When asked about important issues taken into consideration in Judiciary Committee, most members responded with“confidentiality” as a major factor whendealing with any type of case. Whether one student knows the situation, or the whole school does, no case should be discussed by members involved in the hearing outside.
“Compassion” is another important principle the committee tries to follow,
making sure all parties involved in disciplinary actions are comfortable and, as tenth grader Sophia Barrera mentioned, are “not singled out.” She added, “If we workwith anyone, we definitely try our hardestto make sure they feel okay and don’t feel like we are interrogating them.”
The group’s intention is to make sure that students who break rules are willing to come back to the community without the fear of judgement or the idea of being called out on the thing they did wrong. This intention, or process, is also known as the transformative process, which is what they want to apply in future cases. They want to “know what went through their mind whi-le committing this action” and figure out asolution to try to help them.
The transformative process does notnecessarily include just inflicting punishments. Making sure students learn from their actions is the ultimate goal. They arecurrently still figuring out how they want to efficiently and successfully incorporateit into their hearings. Milo Knell, another ninth grade member of the committee, gave details about what happens in the hearings. “Members participating in the hearing all sit down and discuss the case. We discuss possibilities of what we can and should do, interview students, and any teachers or faculty involved. We keep in mind the perspective of students,” said Knell.
Many things have been gained personally by members of the committee. Suh-Toma shared how he has been greatly introduced to many aspects relating to law which just makes him more interested in studying it in his future. Knell added how the committee has taught him about morality and feels like he can make better moral decisions at home, and especially at Sequoyah.