By Abigail Parker and Georgia Williams
To discover the administration’s role in technology, The Panel sat down with Ms. Grant, head of Upper School.
Under what circumstances is a student’s online activity monitored by Winsor?
Despite rumors to the contrary, Winsor administrators do not monitor students’ online activities. Of course we talk with students regularly about making smart, responsible choices for themselves, including their online activities. We discuss choices that seem clear (e.g. not giving personal information to strangers) as well as those that are potentially more complicated (e.g. posting pictures of someone without permission).
Social media can be a great way for people to connect; we wouldn’t be fulfilling our responsibility to our students, though, if we didn’t also discuss with them potential pitfalls.
Are there any secret rules regarding students’ online behavior other than what is set out in the handbook? Are there set consequences for certain acts of misbehavior?
While we have guidelines that we update regularly, such as the Acceptable Use Policy, the digital landscape changes so rapidly that they can become obsolete within a few months. For example, when Facebook was first opened up to high school students, we had a policy in the handbook that students could not use their winsor.edu accounts for any non-school related purposes. Because Facebook, at that time, required users to have a .edu account (see how things have changed!) students came to us to discuss whether we would consider making a change to our policy. After consideration, we did.
Just today I had a student ask whether she could use a social media site to promote a Winsor-related event. She had consulted the handbook and still had questions, so we discussed how we could make it work while staying within the bounds of school policies. When in doubt, ask!
If someone were to do something outside of school that goes against Winsor’s definition of responsible conduct, under what circumstances would Winsor intervene in that situation?
A situation (for example, underage drinking) will lead to disciplinary action at Winsor only if it happens on school campus or if any of the activities tied to the behavior are brought into the school. If it comes to our attention that a student is behaving in a way that might endanger herself or others, we might discuss the situation with the student or her parents, but the situation has to become an issue at school that is affecting other members of the community for it to lead to disciplinary action.
What online actions are considered the business of the school? Are there areas of a student’s like that you would consider outside of the school’s “jurisdiction”?
Winsor does not monitor students’ online activity. However, if any member of our community comes to us with a concern for the safety of student or is worried that a student is being harmed in some way, then it is our responsibility to look into it to ensure no one is being targeted or is in danger. We would not be acting responsibly if we simply dismissed such concerns.
Is there a rule regarding students wearing Winsor apparel while exhibiting reprehensible behavior?
We hope that all students represent Winsor in a responsible way, but the bottom line is what is stated on p. 64 of the Family Handbook, which says, “Members of the Winsor community agree not to use the school name or insignia in any media context that is in conflict with school policies and standards for responsible behavior.”