Last year, former Student Government Association President Christina Cormier had a proposal which would radically change the judicial process on campus. Her student-staffed judicial boards would allow students the choice to have minor to mid-level offenses heard by a board of their peers rather than their resident director or a member of the administration.
After getting off the ground during the spring semester last year, the current SGA Executive Board, in conjunction with Bo Zaryckyj, the Coordinator of Alcohol & Other Drug Education and Community Standards, are working to build on the groundwork laid by Cormier and last year’s SGA.
“We really need a diverse group of people,” said Student Government President Kristina Dupuis. “There’s a diverse group of students on this campus, and we don’t necessarily want a group of friends on the board who are going to help their friends; we want a group of diverse people.”
These judicial boards would be comprised of three students who would sit down with a student who had broken a school policy and listen to the offender present his or her case. They would work with the student to understand the situation and would then make an informed and reasonable decision regarding punishment for the wrongdoer. This suggestion would then go to Zaryckyj for final approval.
These boards would take pressure off of the Resident Directors and the Student Affairs staff. It would give members of the judicial boards valuable experience and give students an opportunity to be heard and ruled on by a group of their peers.
“Last year, I had five applications and accepted four people. A small turnout,” said Zaryckyj. “We had 10 people take applications this year; none have been returned yet.”
The SGA and Zaryckyj are trying to get students involved with the judicial boards to try and broaden the options available to students who have violated college policy. Not only will joining the boards be an excellent resume builder, it helps students have a voice in the judicial decisions that have been up to Resident Directors and Student Affairs until now.
“It is a great process because a student can hear from their peers,” said Zaryckyj, “and get feedback on their behavior.”
Not only are these boards by students for students, the idea came from Springfield College students.
“The idea was a proposal from SGA,” said Zaryckyj. “However, it is not a new concept; many schools use some sort of board.”
Indeed there are already similar boards in place on campus, according to Zaryckyj.
“The college has another type of board as well,” said Zaryckyj. “That board consists of one student, staff and faculty member. They hear sexual misconduct cases and some physical violence cases.”
These new judicial boards would work in a manner similar to this but consist of only students. The boards had a trial run last year and, due to their success, will start up again next semester. Continuing success depends on students getting involved and applying for positions on the boards. Students from any major or program on campus are welcome to apply.
Interested students can find more information about the judicial boards in the Office of Student Affairs on the second floor of the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union.
Josh Ernst may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org