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The Scarlet & Black

Judicial Council numbers released and examined

By Lisa Oyolu

This semester, three cases have been brought before Grinnell’s Judicial Council (JudCo) for consideration.

JudCo is one of three disciplinary boards on campus, alongside the College Hearing Board and the Committee on Academic Standing. While the College Hearing Board adjudicates serious violations and the Committee on Academic Standing deals with issues of academic honesty, JudCo is the lower branch of the student conduct process on campus. Thus, it settles smaller violations of campus policies and/or overarching local, state and federal laws.

Of the three cases this semester, the first dealt with repeated non-compliance with the Iowa Smokefree Air Act and with Campus Safety and Security. In the second, a student was charged with “attempting to gain unauthorized access into an administrative office” and for “attempted burglary.” In both of the aforementioned cases, students were found responsible for these actions.

The third case involved 10 respondents, all of whom were charged for underage drinking and for non-compliance with the College Alcohol and Other Drug policy (marijuana use and/or paraphernalia). Additionally, three of the 10 were charged with misuse/tampering with fire safety equipment. Six of the 10 charged students were ultimately found responsible for underage drinking and nine for non-compliance with the Alcohol and Other Drug policy. All of the three students charged for tampering with fire safety equipment were found responsible.

These statistics can be found in the “Student Conduct Statistics” released by the Dean of Students Office as “[an] effort to increase transparency in the student conduct process.” The document details the number nature of cases that it deals with. It was recently made available to the S&B.

The JudCo process typically begins after a student or Grinnell College Safety and Security officer comes forward with a complaint against a student. This initial complaint is then investigated by JudCo to determine if there is enough information to create a case. Depending on the seriousness of the complaint, respondents may resolve it through non-judicial talks with their Residence Life Coordinator. If, however, the situation is deemed serious, students have the chance to either resolve the matter directly with Travis Greene, Dean of Students, or go through JudCo proceedings.

“Whenever there is an allegation made against a student, he, she or ze, always has the right to resolve it through me as the Dean of Students,” Greene said. “Oftentimes, that means they’re accepting responsibility.”

As of 2011, JudCo is entirely student-run. Even though a faculty member serves as an adviser, student members of the JudCo board retain voting and presiding power. Upon hearing a case and viewing the evidence, members determine whether or not respondents are “responsible” and then recommend potential outcomes—ranging from a written warning to conduct probation—to Greene, who normally implements these recommendations, sometimes with modifications.

In addition to the JudCo hearings, Greene dealt with one case informally. The case involved two students gaining unauthorized access to a loggia rooftop.

Information obtained from the Dean of Students Office also revealed that there have been three alcohol-related hospitalizations this semester—the same number as last Fall, and five fewer than in Spring 2013.

The decrease in cases from last semester is not, however, a determinant of success in the Dean of Students Office’s attempts to address the issue. Some have expressed the concern that these statistics may not reflect a decrease in incidents themselves and may possibly be attributed to the fact that many students do not feel comfortable coming forward in these situations, attempting, instead, to deal with them on their own.

JudCo members remain confident, however, regarding the role that they play and the independence that JudCo proceedings reflect.

“Many times, students think that when a case goes in front of JudCo, self-gov has broken down. When really peers holding their peers accountable for something is self-gov in action,” said Remy Ferber ’14, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Lizzy Steuber ’14, a JudCo member of three years, notes that just as JudCo has become more student-driven; it has also experienced other important changes.

“I think another thing that has really changed in JudCo is how accessible we’re trying to make it,” Steuber said. “We’ve hosted a few mock-trial hearings, we’ve had open panels about it and we’re even trying to make t-shirts, so that students know [who the JudCo members are].”

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