Judical Council reform on hold
August 31, 2007
__Sadler says SA proposal to hold elections for Judicial Council candidates “requires more consultation and consideration”__
Sam Sadler, the vice president for student affairs, announced in a campus-wide e-mail last week that he was recommending five short changes to the Student Handbook that were proposed by the Student Assembly last spring. For now he declined to support a proposed change in the way that Judicial Council members are selected. The proposed change calls for members to be elected by students. Currently, members of the council are appointed by the administration
p. “[The proposal] requires more consultation and consideration,” Sadler wrote.
p. The SA proposal says that the change would give students more control over the system and better reflect student diversity.
p. “The 13 undergraduate members of the Judicial Council are presently selected through a process coordinated by the Dean of Students Office,” the proposal said. “We believe that this process, as currently manifested, does not result in a selection of members that is truly representative of our diverse student body — a goal that would be more readily achieved by increasing the influence of the student body in selecting its representation on the undergraduate Judicial Council.”
p. A May 8 e-mail from Sadler detailed the objections from the Dean of Students Office.
p. “In an electoral system, each candidate is chosen individually without regard to the overall composition of the Council; accordingly, it is possible that the persons elected ultimately will have interests in a narrow range of responsibilities (such as case management rather than education) or represent a relatively small segment of the College’s population (for instance, it is easier for large blocks of student groups to elect a disproportionate number of members to the Council,)”
p. Student Assembly President Zach Pilchen ’09 agreed with Sadler’s conclusion. “A popular election would do little to help the situation,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Flat Hat. “Students want a Judicial Council with members who are exhaustive in the pursuit of justice, are creative thinkers and above all, know what it’s like to be an average student at William and Mary. There is simply no way to determine those things from a popular election with a brief blurb from each candidate, as was proposed.”
p. SA senate chair Matt Beato ’09 was more supportive, noting that students would have to be approved by a committee before being allowed to run for judicial council. “I do not see a problem with an election of candidates who have gone through a panel — these judicial council members would have been selected through a panel anyway,” Beato said.
p. The proposed panel would consist of six students and the Dean of Students. An applicant would be turned down if rejected by five committee members.
p. Beato also said that the administration had violated the student handbook rules by selecting judicial council members. Beato said that only students are supposed to have voting rights on the Judicial Council selection committee.
p. “Each year the Dean of Students office will coordinate an application/selection process,” the Student Handbook currently reads. “A committee consisting of the Student Assembly Vice President, the Dean of Students or designee, a faculty member who has served as a member of the Judicial Council (all three serving as ex-officio, non-voting members), along with two students who have been Judicial members, and two undergraduate council members will select judicial council nominees.”
p. Sadler did not reject the current proposal outright and said he will form a council to look into the issue. Both Beato and Pilchen said that some reform of the judicial council was necessary.
“There are several very specific changes that must be made to the judicial code,” Pilchen said.