Structures of the S.A.S. Just Community
Community Meeting is the oldest A-School structure, and it is hard to imagine how the A-School could function without it. Community meetings are run by two students from a core group. Core Groups take turns to appoint chairs. The chair people structure the discussions, call on people, determine when to vote, and what kind of vote to take. Chairs who are doing the job well listen to the comments bering made, are careful not to call on the same people repeatedly while others have their hands up, and frequently take straw votes to determine whether or not the community is ready to vote and move on to the next issue.
Agenda committee decides what issues are going to be discussed in community meeting. This committee consists of a minimum of two students per core group, and the advisor. Agenda committee is open to the entire community, and one needs only to attend to get a vote in that meeting. Although people sometimes consider agenda a chore or forget to go, it is the most underrated structure at S.A.S. The power to decide what the community will discuss is a substantial one. If students do not write in the agenda book (which has its own mailbox at both the A-School and the High School), or come to the committee with ideas, it is left to the teachers to set the agenda for the entire community.
Each advisor has a core group of about 15 students which meets once a week to discuss community and personal issues, and, of course, to eat. Core group is many people's favorite S.A.S. structure because relationships within core groups can grow very close. Core group also provides an opportunity to take care of essential administrative tasks. although few people enjoy spending core group time on taking care of business. Sometimes agenda committee will ask core groups to focus on issues that will be discussed at community meeting as well. Some people do not feel comfortable discussing certain issues with the entire community; therefore, such discussions can be more effective if they are preceded by a core group discussion.
Because core groups began to differ widely in their emphasis over the year, a committee was formed in the summer of 1998 to clarify the purpose of core group. The following was agreed to as a definition of core group. Core Group is: a) a safe place where individuals can formulate opinions on community wide issues and test them out. b) a place where a cross section of the school can create a community and so be able to address personal issues. c) a place where school wide issues can surface and then be brought to community meeting. d) a place to learn effective group process skills. e) a place to learn about the history, theory, and philosophy of SAS and f) the group that monitors the school's community service requirement for each of its members.
An important part of core groups is confidentiality. Therefore, there should be no discussion of personal issues that might arise in core group with anyone outside that core group.
For the purpose of making orientation more effective, you have been assigned to a temporary core group; however, you will have a say in which core group you wish to be in when permanent core groups are created.
Once every two weeks each advisor meets with his/her advisees individually. This time is set aside to talk about everything from business to personal problems. Advisor/advisee relationships are characterized by the particular individuals involved. Often, this relationship becomes a very close one over the three years the student remains with the same adivsor.
Fairness committee consists of a minimum of one faculty member and 5 students. The purpose of this student led committee is to resolve disputes and deal with rule infractions within the community. Fairness committee serves as the judicial branch of the community.
Any student or teacher may bring any other community member to fairness. First, fairness committee hears from the person who asked to come before them about his or her reasons for doing so. Then the person being brought to fairness has a chance to respond. After both people have been asked questions on the situation, the committee discusses it on their own and decides whether consequences are necessary and what they should be. Sometimes consequences are not necessary because the two people might simply have needed a forum to discuss their issue and see each other's point of view. On the other hand, people are sometimes brought for breaking community rules in which case consequences are more likely. All consequences for rule infractions have to be arrived at by a vote of all fairness members. If someone is given consequences that are unfair, they may appeal their case before an appeals committee, and if that should still be unsatisfactory they may bring the issue in front of the entire community who then acts as a final fairness committee. People outside the S.A.S. community may only be involved in this process if they agree to confidentiality and to abide by whatever decisions are made.
The responsibilities of all members of fairness committee are to attend all meetings, and if they are assigned to follow up on a specific consequence to do so. It is the case leader's responsibility to inform all participants of any consequences given, and to follow up on these consequences. The person that is being brought has to announce all the consequences to the community. Students interested in leading fairness committee cases are urged to take the fairness committee leadership course.
Last Modified on July 13, 2010