The Dean of Students office will now refer some of its disciplinary cases to the Students? Association All Campus Judicial Council thus increasing the caseload for the body.
?They are hearing more cases because of the peer education model where students have an impact on other students,? Associate Dean of Students Ken Rockensies said.
ACJC members will determine the sanctions for cases of responsible plea. This means that they will decide the punishments for the students who admit fault.
?We have created mini-groups or teams of ACJC members that will meet with [students who chose the responsible plea option] and they will issue the sanctions,? Rockensies said. These meetings will take place on Monday nights.
In addition, ACJC will have two members on the Administrative Hearing Panel. This panel hears more severe cases that involve assault, intolerance or harassment. In cases of sexual harassment, there may be one male and one female ACJC member on the panel upon request from the accused student.
?We are perfectly happy with an increased case load,? said junior and Associate Chief Rachel Morrissey.
This does not mean that the body will handle all disciplinary cases. Cases generally stem from complaints from many different sources, which include Resident Advisors or UR Security reports. Rockensies serves as the primary information gatherer for complaints and refers to them to different sources, such as ACJC, a Residential Life area coordinator or even himself in simple cases.
?Since I am the primary information gatherer, I am trying to move away from being the decision maker because I do not want to be the lone person to hear [the cases],? Rockensies said.
The disciplinary process is complicated. The accused has the option to either take the responsible plea or ask for a disciplinary hearing. The advantage of taking the responsible plea is that it promotes an educational and non-adversarial process.
However, the responsible plea is not an option for moderate to complex cases where multiple parties are involved and the sanctions can be as severe as student suspensions. These cases are directed to a judicial hearing to properly hear all sides, both of the accused and the victims. The hearing may be in front of a judicial officer or ACJC.
There is flexibility in the system. Students are allowed to request to be referred to ACJC and negotiations are always possible, Rockensies said.
ACJC members cannot discuss cases sent to them because the hearing is closed and confidential. However, when the case is SA related, the hearings are open to everyone.
?We are not playing the secrets game anymore,? senior and Chief Justice Ryan Walters said.
In fact, one of ACJC?s first cases was an open hearing when the SA Senate elections were discussed.
The current Handbook on Student Discipline is a draft. The model for disciplinary procedures and the handling of cases is still evolving and this is an ongoing process where the administration will seek student input, Rockensies said.
Desai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.