RHA considers creating judicial branch

The idea for a peer judging system was proposed Oct. 4.

The Residence Halls Association Policy and Rules Committee considered the addition of a judicial branch to RHA at its meeting Monday.

The idea was proposed at the group's last meeting Oct. 4, and committee members researched how other universities run similar branches.

The members presented their findings in last night’s meeting.

“From my research, I feel like the judicial branch should have more power over the residence halls, but not every case should go directly to the judicial branch." RHA committee member Kelsey Dunn said. "The issues should be dealt, if possible, within the residence halls first.”

The committee members felt students may feel more comfortable having a peer involved in the decision-making process regarding their incident.

“The idea is to put peers into the discipline process to give students more piece of mind, and so that it is not just a bunch of adults deciding what their punishment will be,” RHA committee member Chris Chandler said.

Caleb Krenning, RHA Events and Planning Committee Chairman, said with the judicial branch, it would not just be hall coordinators determining what happens to the students.

With the addition of this branch, the student’s peers also get to have a say in their punishment, not just an adviser.

Trace Johnson, the new Policy and Rules Committee Chair, said the court shouldn’t just deal with student conduct, but also should overview constitutional issues. He said those are just ideas, and the Judicial Branch still needs some more review.

One concern expressed was whether Residential Life could strike down the student’s opinion. Speaker Pro Tempore Jared Grafman, who is also a Maneater senior staff writer, said the student’s voices would be heard, but whether Residential Life could strike down their suggestions is unknown and something that should be further researched.

Johnson said he, Chandler and Grafman met with Residential Life Associate Director Kristen Temple at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the proposal of the judicial branch.

“Kristen was very supportive of the idea, and she thought we could brainstorm some more ideas,” Johnson said. “She brought up that in the past the issue with the judicial branch was that they didn’t have enough to do, so the committee just dissolved.”

Johnson said judicial branch members would be chosen through an appointment process to assure that the most unbiased members were chosen.

“We would have some sort of appointment system, but the appointees wouldn’t be able to hold offices at the same time,” Johnson said. “We are looking for someone who would be as unbiased as possible. We wouldn’t want them to be in any sort of media organization on campus or any sort of student government.”

Committee member Connor Wangler said the terms that each judicial branch member can hold in other universities is typically kept to one full academic year.

Grafman said members would be required to have lived in the residence halls for at least one year before they could be appointed.

“They would be nominated and approved at the end of the spring semester the year before they are to be in their term,” he said.

The incident resolution process with the judicial branch is long and complicated, Chandler said, but allows the student to agree or disagree with the advisor’s punishment.

“First the hall coordinator would file a report on what happened, and the student would meet with them, and the student can decide what sanctions they would like,” Chandler said.

Then, advisers counsel students on what should happen, Chandler said. If the student disagrees, they can meet with the senior coordinator of the student conduct committee.

If the student wants to pursue the issue further, they appeal to the conduct committee as a whole. If more disagreements arise, the student can then meet with Chancellor Brady Deaton, but that's a last — and final — resort.

"Whatever he says goes,” Chandler said.

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