MSA adds student conduct advising position

The position would advise students and participate in MSA court hearings.
Senate Speaker Evan Wood introduces a bill Wednesday during the Missouri Students Association meeting in Hawthorn Hall. The bill would create an Amicus Curiae position, which would serve students going through the student conduct process.

The Missouri Students Association created an office to advise students through the student conduct process Wednesday.

An undergraduate or MU graduate student could hold this position, called the Office of the Amicus Curiae. In addition to its advising role, the Amicus Curiae will also hold the power to represent MSA any time it is involved in Student Court cases. The Office of the Amicus Curiae also holds the power to file suits or prosecute cases before the MSA Student Court.

Criterion for the Amicus Curiae includes being an MU student of at least sophomore standing, as well as a minimum GPA of 2.3. The Amicus Curiae, whose position is unpaid, must also be trained and approved by Student Legal Services before being confirmed by MSA.

"Law students are ideal candidates for this position, but anyone with the proper qualifications can be considered," MSA Senate Speaker Evan Wood said. "I think the selection and training process almost eliminates the prospect of bad advice being given."

Wood said the addition of the Amicus Curiae would alleviate conflict of interest issues that he said exist in the Office of Student Conduct and will improve the legitimacy of advice given to students navigating through the Student Conduct process.

"It's a step (toward improving the student conduct process), and takes away the conflicts that arise when a student gets a ruling from the Office of Student Conduct who is the same body telling that student to appeal or not," Wood said. "It's important to have someone in that capacity as a professional who is more apt to be an adviser. It's like the reason people hire a lawyer to represent them in court rather than their mother or brother."

Board of Elections Commissioners Chairman Dan Kelley said the creation of the Amicus Curiae position is unnecessary and would only be useful if the person filling the position was a paid professional.

"I don't think this is an awful or a bad idea,” Kelley said. “I just don't really see the need for this position. I think we should have made this a professional position because I really feel that if we're going to hold someone liable to give advice, it ought to at least be their full time job. I do not think it should be a student."

MSA Chief Justice Eric Woods said the new position would be effective in addressing concerns as long as the person filling the position is qualified and fully trained.

"I think the people in Student Conduct do a good job, and I trust that the person filling the role of the Amicus Curiae will assuage the concerns brought up previously about conflicts of interest," Woods said. "I was originally hesitant when this idea was proposed, but when Wood added the possibility of this being a student-held position, I was more comfortable with the idea."

Woods said the student occupation of the Amicus Curiae position would be more successful as a relatable link to students who seek to go through the Office of Student Conduct.

"This way, students will have someone to advise them who is willing to help and is sensitive to their concerns as students," Woods said.

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