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Students plan an Institute JudComm

By Linda D'Angelo

Students are planning for an Institute Judicial Committee which would serve as an "intermediate step" between the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs and the individual dormitory JudComms, according to Dormitory Council Judicial Chairperson Beth Pruitt '91.

The specifics of the committee are "still in the formative stages," Pruitt said. But it has already been decided that a JudComm representative from each dormitory will form the voting body. Ideally, the committee would meet twice a month beginning next fall.

Both graduate residents and housemasters would have one representative on the Institute JudComm, who would "act in an advisory capacity," Pruitt explained. These representatives would give the committee an added perspective as well as "bring information about student problems back to their respective groups," she added.

In order to prevent bias, the committee-member representing the dormitory of a student filing a complaint would be expected to excuse himself from the vote, Pruitt noted. This would provide students with an alternative, should they feel uncomfortable bringing their problems before dormitory JudComms. The committee could also act as an appeal option for students who are dissatisfied with the decision of their house JudComm.

An Institute JudComm would help solve the "back-logging" of student complaints in the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, according to New House JudComm member Emil Dabora '91. The Committee on Discipline, originally designed to deal with academic problems, has begun to deal with disciplinary matters within the dormitories in an effort to lessen the backlog, he explained. While COD's efforts have reduced the overload of complaints somewhat, it has not solved the problem, Dabora said.

This overload has created a waiting period between the submitting of a complaint and the rendering of a decision. One result of this is "senior slide," Dabora contended. Since graduating students realize that disciplinary action will probably not be carried out until well after they graduate, they tend to act without much fear of penalty, he explained.

The Institute JudComm would be fully dedicated to student complaints, thus increasing the efficiency with which these complaints could be handled. The delay period between complaint and resolution would be greatly reduced, and this would enhance the entire Institute judicial system since "justice delayed is not justice," Dabora concluded.

By "showing that a peer judicial process can be effective," the Institute JudComm would also be a "mechanism through which house JudComm can be strengthened," according to Andrew M. Eisenmann '75, a senior staff associate in the Student Affairs Office. Dabora agreed that the establishment of an Institute JudComm might "legitimize [the JudComm process] more in some students eyes."

Finally, the Institute JudComm would "give more of the regulation of student policies back to students," Pruitt said. This is crucial since "part of government is self-regulation," she added.

Eisenmann also applauded this idea of "students and student groups dealing with the issues students have." He was confident that students would "be able to understand and evaluate the issues at a level which may be more appropriate to the circumstances of the case."

The existence of the committee, and the many cases it could resolve, would free the ODSA to do more planning, Eisenmann said. And "the more avenues that exist, the more opportunities students have, the better they will feel about the process, and the more effectively it can work," he concluded.