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The Scarlet & Black

Disciplinary councils open up

By Bassil Alcheikh

Responding to the cry for increased transparency on campus, the Judicial Council (JudCo) and the College Hearing Board are adopting new policies in order to dispel the sense of secrecy that many students feel encompass the two disciplinary student committees.

JudCo and the College Hearing Board are the college’s chief disciplinary boards, with the Hearing Board overseeing the more severe cases. “Severe cases usually come to Houston Dougharty and me,” said Dean of Students Travis Greene. “In these cases, we refer them to the College Hearing Board, where they usually result in suspension or dismissal from the college.”

These hearings, among others, range from sexual and physical assault cases to drug sales, academic dishonesty and serious theft. Cases involving less serious matters, such as roommate conflicts, cigarette litter and dorm hall situations, are handled by JudCo.

“JudCo and the College Hearing Board are historically confidential and behind closed doors,” said SGA Vice President for Academic Affairs Joanna DeMars ’10. “We want to shed light and inform the campus of what’s going on behind those doors.”

“The emphasis of the process is to make the disciplinary structure more transparent, to explain how these boards work and to further empower the students that sit on these boards as judges of their peers, giving them the support from their community,” said President of SGA Harry Krejsa ’10.

Among these policies for JudCo is the implementation of a public record of the cases JudCo resolves, while keeping identities confidential. “This year, we will make the cases available to see on the website, though we will avoid putting names in the case descriptions in order to perserve personal confidentiality,” DeMars said. “This helps JudCo with access to precedent, in order to have a suggestion on how to handle a case.”

Along with releasing identity-protected accounts of JudCo and College Hearing Board cases to the [S&B], Krejsa and DeMars have joined efforts with Greene to find better ways of involving students in the College Hearing Board.

“Currently, the Dean of Students is in charge of appointing students to the College Hearing Board. The Hearing Board has not long had student representatives,” Krejsa said. “Travis[Greene] doesn’t like that set up, we don’t like that setup, so we’ve set up a general outline for reforms. Prior to the reform, there was limited student involvement in the process. We will have student institutions select these representatives, and these are the reforms we’re pushing forward and working out the details.”
Greene said changing the setup has been a goal since he and Dougharty first arrived at Grinnell.

“The first thing Houston Dougharty and I did when we got here was include student representation in the College Hearing Board,” Greene said.

The reform in membership selection has even trickled down to the forms students apply with. “Something new we’re doing is changing application forms,” DeMars said. “To apply to be on JudCo, you won’t list your name on the application, but rather your mailbox number. This protects both the applicant and the viewer from any bias.”

Though SGA and Student Affairs are working together toward considerable reform, the final product of the reform process still remains fragmentary. “The College Hearing Board will make punishment guidelines to help decide what punishment is appropriate while also being sensitive to aggravating and mitigating circumstances,” Krejsa said. “Nothing is set in stone—we have just suggestions and guidelines.”

Even some positions are not completely set in stone. “Joanna [DeMars] and I will look into her position as an observer in JudCo more,” Greene said.

Traditionally, the Vice President of Academic Affairs takes the role of the Observer, who is responsible for giving advice throughout the case hearing and conveying information about the court procedure. Both Greene and DeMars have contemplated adding duties to the role of Observer. The Dean of Students is the chairperson of JudCo and co-leads the proceedings with the Observer.

SGA and Student Affairs want considerable student involvement. “We’re trying to make the whole process more open,” Krejsa said. “We will be holding our reform planning during Joint Board sessions. There are too many students who are unsatisfied with the current setup.”


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