DSM: RE: Re: laws

Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 22:14:29 -0500

> Joe,
> Could you elaborate on just why and how, in the very first
> meeting the subject
> of "laws" came up.

Well, my memory was dim, but I believe that following the adoption of
various structures and the elections of various clerks etc., the floor was
opened to any new items, and motions were made and voted upon.

> Does it seem students feel totally lost
> without laws or a
> way to control others ?

It's not so much that they feel "lost", but that they feel like they have no
control over their environment without ways of protecting their personal
space, as well as protecting their rights to do things and use things
without someone (bigger) taking it away from them.

I would say it is very much like, no it is *precisely* for the same reasons
we as a community and nation pass laws. So your question is akin to asking,
for example, do I feel totally "lost" if there's nothing protecting me from
someone taking everything I have?

> Did a high school age student bring it up, a grade
> schooler looking for limits or what ?

Students of all ages and staff were making motions and discussing and
voting. It was a heady day.

> I keep trying to understand the balance that there seems to be in
> the SV model
> of self determination and the desire for laws and the ability for
> the majority
> to impose their will on the minority.

Well that's an interesting way of saying it, since the only alternative is
the public school way: the minority imposing it's will on the majority...

> Does any SV model have a constitution and a "bill of rights" that
> can not be
> violated or is anything fair game ?

There is a preamble, and one can be brought up for violating it. The
preamble reads:

0-20-01 The school exists to provide a free and democratic environment where
people can assume responsibility for their education and lives.

0-20-02 By freely joining this school community, all School Meeting members
become responsible for maintaining its free and democratic atmosphere, and
for its continued existence.

Some other laws that might fit what you're talking about:

1-00-01 No one may knowingly or negligently infringe on anyone's right to
exist peacably.
1-00-02 Verbal, physical and sexual harrassment will not be tolerated.
1-00-03 Disrupting someone's activity is prohibited, except as provided for
in the lawbook.
1-00-04 Physical violence is not permitted at this school.
1-00-10 There shall be no illegal activities on or off campus during

etc. etc. etc.

> You said the laws were passed "one by one". Were the laws passed
> in response to
> an offense that could not be worked out between students or were the laws
> passed prior to being needed ?

In the first SM (which occured on the first day of school), mostly passed
prior to being needed. In all subsequent SM's, overwhelmingly as a result
of incidents.

Always a pleasure, John,


> John Axtell
> Joe Jackson wrote: However we did go into
> > operation without a judicial system or lawbook. Our inital
> School Meeting
> > on September 23, 1998 (which was attended by virtually _all_
> students and
> > staff) voted to adopt a Judicial Committee modeled closely to SVS's, and
> > voted in laws one by one.

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