Judicial Board Rules on Minor Violations

by JR Enderle
Staff

Every third Tuesday of the month the Transylvania Student Judicial Board convenes in Conference Room A to decide the fate of those accused of conduct violations. But the Board’s real importance, its profile is surprisingly low, and knowledge of how it operates and what function it serves is scant. When sophomore hearing board officer Josh Edge was asked who knows about the existence of the Judicial Board, he said “people that get written up do.”

Sophomore Josh Edge serves on TU's Judicial Board.The board is primarily concerned with level one violations, the most common of which are alcohol violations, noise complaints, visitation violations and fire drill violations. For level one violations the board has the power to impose sanctions of up to $200 fines, 90 days of disciplinary probation and 20 hours of service.

The procedure the Judicial Board follows is modeled after the American judicial system. Complainants, most often resident assistants, though they may be anyone, file charges against a student with the director of residence life or dean of students, most often within two weeks of the alleged violation.

Level one violators can waive their right to a Judicial Board hearing by declaring themselves guilty of the charges. They will then receive the standard punishment for their violation. Should the student choose to face the board, they will find themselves in a court-like situation. Introductions are made, charges are read, opening statements are made, evidence is presented by both sides and finally closing statements are made.

No lawyers are allowed in the process and the burden of proof is left entirely to the complainant. In order to convict the alleged violator, a preponderance of evidence (proof that the violation was more likely committed than not) is needed instead of the usual proof beyond reasonable doubt. There is also an appeal process by which the accused can bring their case before the University Judicial Council.

“The Judicial Board gives students more fair sanction,” Edge said. “The University faculty and administration may be so far removed they may not be the best deciders in these types of situations.”

Edge says that subtleties may exist within violations which may be lumped together in the student handbook, and the Judiciary Board gives students a chance to decode these unclear distinctions from a student perspective. Juror Rachel Wolfe said, “It’s nice that it is a student-run organization, and while it’s under [Director of Residence Life] Bob Brown, we have our own autonomy in decision, a reasonable autonomy.”

“I think it’s really important that people know it exists, even though it may not necessarily affect them,” Edge said.

While jurors are bound to secrecy about specific cases, Edge said that some students really do get passionate about defending themselves and knowing their rights, and he thinks that this is a great attribute for them to have.

The board is open to and comprised of students of all grade levels. There is a requirement that jurors cannot have had any large violations during their time at Transylvania. The board is comprised of thirteen members, including a hearing officer who does not serve as a juror. Each case is heard by five randomly selected jurors and the hearing officer. Jurors are bound to secrecy regarding each case, and no hearings are made public.
Transylvania’s small size makes it likely that jurors will know those presenting their cases, so secrecy is important.

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