Is JUG Restorative Justice?

Mia Schwartz and Ava Tinder

JUG, deriving from the Latin word jugum, is the disciplinary consequence assigned by teachers to students for misbehaving at Seattle Prep, or acting in a way that doesn’t align with the school’s moral code. The system of JUG has been instilled at Seattle Prep for as long as it can be remembered, however, is it actually effective in correcting students’ behavior? Does it create an understanding of the negative impact their actions have on the community?

Restorative justice is defined as a system which focuses on the rehabilitation of rule offenders through reconciliation with the victim and the community at large. Its main principles are to promote recovery, healing, and to provide a safe, supportive environment to learn from mistakes. Many students at Prep question if JUG falls within the lines of this definition or brings about a positive change in the community. Someone who understands the system of JUG from both the perspective of a student and an faculty member is Dean of Students, Mr. Hendricks. Hendricks stated,

“I think that it’s a system that works. It was a system in place when I was a student at Prep.”

However, when asked more specifically if JUG was beneficial to students reflecting upon the consequences of their actions, Hendricks didn’t necessarily agree. Hendricks said, “The hope is that the reflection takes place in somewhat of the inconvenience that JUG causes.” Nonetheless, “They are restoring back to the community and doing service that otherwise doesn’t get done. Students completing JUG in the neighborhoods’ surrounding Prep is a small gesture that shows we have care for our neighbors – so that’s the kind of restoration to the damage that they have done. It’s overall an opportunity for them to help the school out and reflect on their actions.”

Students at Prep receive JUG for numerous minor infractions, spanning from the use of a phone during class to being tardy to classes too frequently. Those who have been assigned it know that JUG starts promptly at 2:50 PM in room I100 after school on the day it was assigned. It consists of tasks such as picking up garbage around the neighborhood, cleaning windows, and other chores around the school community.

Although these lapses of etiquette may be seen as no big deal, they can significantly impact the learning environment. Hendricks explained that “Most of our JUGs come from consistent tardies, the hope is to try and move those students to be more attentive to time. I don’t think students are always aware of how disruptive that is to a teacher – it interferes with the flow of a class.”

Although the system of JUG at Seattle Prep may not be a golden example of restorative justice, it contributes to the order of Prep and exceptional student behavior. Wiping down a window, scrapping the gum off the bottom of a desk, or picking up a piece of plastic off East Miller Street may be the very actions keeping the student body in line – and that is what’s important.

Hendricks explained how JUG might allow students to think about their place in the community, “It seems to do the job. JUG helps our students recognize some of the issues that develop on campus and prevent them from happening.”