“Audiatur et altera pas” – May the other part also be heard – is their motto and justice is their objective. We’re talking about the All Campus Judicial Council, the Student Association Senate’s Supreme Court and discipline hearing panel, empowered to handle violations of student conduct standards and review the actions of the SA, student organizations and the student body. They pride themselves on their quest for fairness and improvement of the community and their reputation amongst the students and the administration of a true organization of the students, by the students for the students. Going through their Web site gives the feeling that ACJC is a highly structured and coherent judicial organization. The legal terms and the whole ambience of the site give off the unambiguous message that this group knows what it’s doing and means business. The council has an interpretative power of the constitution, but not legislative power. Members of the council are also asked to sit in as representatives on hearings for other committees such as intolerance and sexual assault. “We’re trained to handle these proceedings ourselves,” Chief Justice and Take Five Scholar Dave Iseminger said. “We’re a pretty autonomous group.” The members are well-educated about the internal components of the judicial process and the council with its numerous roles, and thus functions as an intermediate between the student body and the administration. It is an open organization that students can freely approach with regards to issues involving any group on campus. A major role of the council is to regulate the highly confidential judicial proceedings. While SA-associated cases are made public, judicial hearings are kept in strict confidentiality. “We are unable to even rectify rumors or misinterpretations,” Iseminger said. “That makes us very one-sided, but it can’t be helped.” These judicial proceedings are not intimidating, rather, their aim is to uncover the evidence and render an impartial decision. In fact, no one but the chief justice knows any judicial history of the respondent, since such knowledge might bias ACJC’s decision. The chief justice is permitted to divulge the information if and only if the respondent is found guilty, so that the jury can look at the larger picture. The sanctions too have an educational purpose – the council makes recommendations for sanctions to the Dean of Students. All members keep their schedules free on Friday afternoons for appointments or to answer questions. Meetings are held only for a hearing where there is a necessity to discuss the issue. The selection process for new members of ACJC begins around March. Candidates are interviewed twice and filtered on the basis of their ability to critically assess situations. The process is fairly competitive – only four or five make it out of 40 or 50 applicants. Due to the high respect that the council commands, the general interest is usually larger than other groups. “People often ask me if they should apply twice, and I tell them that I was rejected the first time that I applied, and got in the second time, and today I’m Chief Justice, so it’s definitely worth the try,” Iseminger said. ACJC also takes its role in academic honesty extremely seriously. “The word academic honesty is thrown around so much on campus, but not many people fully comprehend the term and how frequently these incidents happen. “It ranges from plagiarism to forging a note that might have an impact on your GPA,” Iseminger said. The council is currently working on creating a brand new Web site that will soon enable students to access more information about it. ACJC also submitted a set of recommendations to the Academic Honesty Board that addressed issues like notifying students of the accusation in advance and giving them the right to a hearing within a short time. Whether we view it as a serious judicial organization or simply a group that exists to make our life easier and bring our concerns to justice, ACJC is certainly one of the university’s valued assets.Krishnan can be reached at email@example.com.
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