EDITORIAL: A Just Community not only for students

New harassment policy should blaze a path to accountability


By The Boiling Point Editorial Board   

A week ago, the administration announced a new addition to the Student Handbook, which has not yet been updated online, titled the Harassment/Discrimination/Retaliation Prevention Policy. This policy improves an area of the Handbook previously left ambiguous and will hopefully inform students of expectations regarding the treatment of others and improve the handling of misconduct.

Where we feel the new policy is lacking, however, is in its focus only on students. Shalhevet stands out from other schools in its self-definition as a Just Community — a school that is more than a place where students come to be taught by teachers. At our school there is a responsibility shared by anyone who enters the building, be they students or teachers, to commit to the values of respecting others and thinking morally and ethically.

We believe that everyone at Shalhevet — faculty, administration and all staff — should therefore pledge to hold themselves to the same standards expected of students. As role models, educators and members of a shared community, it is vital that everyone follow the rules in this new policy, and for the same universally applicable halakhic principle that the policy states: “Torah teaches us the value of chesed, menschlechkeit, and using speech to help rather than degrade ourselves and others.”

The policy is deliberately vague as to punishments, reflecting the fact that every case has unique circumstances. This is appropriate and should make it easier for staff to sign on to the policy, as certain consequences for students could not be applied to staff and vice versa.

Since the Handbook has yet to be updated online, there is still time to make changes.  If we really pride ourselves on shared values, the new Harassment/ Discrimination/Retaliation Prevention Policy should immediately be amended to include all community members, so that we can step into a new age of greater accountability and respect.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority view of the members of the Editorial Board, which consists of the Co-Editor-in-Chiefs,  Web Editor-in-Chief, Community Editor, Art and Design Director and Faculty Advisor. We welcome submissions for signed editorials from members of the Shalhevet Community, and the final decision about printing them is made by the Editorial Board. Submissions should be emailed to [email protected]

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