Chilliwack school district: a missed opportunity

Chilliwack school misses learning opportunity by expelling 10 students for smoking marijuana at a school-sanctioned soccer tournament.

It would be too easy to dismiss the concern raised by students who were expelled from their high school last week after admitting they smoked marijuana at an out-of-town soccer meet.

“Serves ’em right.”

“They had it coming.”

“Do the crime, pay the fine.”

And yet that trenchant response fails the student community, and denies school administrators the opportunity to use discretion in assessing and arbitrating student conduct.

“Zero tolerance” is a popular phrase. It’s pulled out whenever we want to express our collective anger over behaviour we want changed. It demonstrates the kind of fortitude that plays well in a 10-second sound bite.

But it is a blunt instrument that attempts to apply simple solutions to complicated issues.

The students expelled from Sardis secondary last week offer a case in point. (Parents call for flexibility in punishment policy, Progress, Oct. 1.)

Their parents agree there must be consequences. The teenagers will be punished at home, and they should be punished at school.

What they question is an arbitrary expulsion, without consideration of mitigating factors so common in our own legal system: prior offenses, personal character, opportunities for change.

These are fundamental precepts of sentencing. Some may disagree with them, but those who do forget that courts are not there simply to exact punishment, but to educate and encourage rehabilitation.

To be clear, the students were never caught smoking marijuana. They admitted to it later when confronted.

They could have done what politicians and professional athletes have taught them over the years: deny, deny, deny.

But they didn’t. They took responsibility for their stupidity and braced for the consequences.

What they learned was that honesty matters little.

And that’s the collateral implication of uncompromising policies.

True, they provide a tidy response, and paint the world in convenient blacks and whites, regardless of the circumstance.

What they fail to do, however, is offer the flexibility to craft solutions that can turn a bad decision by one into a lesson for many.

What the students did was wrong.

But the response was a surrendered opportunity, forced by a policy that needs changing.

Just Posted

Greg Moore Raceway rolls into 2018 season

With new faces on the board, Chilliwack’s hidden gem is ready to step into the spotlight.

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: NatureKids “critterscape” at Cheam Lake Wetlands

A group of children helped keep invasive species in check at the local park

Experimental pot lab sprouting cannabis-infused drinks, new edibles

Nestled inside Canopy Growth Corp.’s sprawling marijuana facility outside Ottawa is a special laboratory

Federal committee to examine human trafficking in Canada

The Commons committee plans on holding hearings in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Most Read