Judicial Board meets year-long goals: reforms policies, increases efficiency

It’s that time of the semester again—where I write an article of importance and relevance that none of you read. I only jest, I’m sure there are one or two of you who will skim through it.

The Judicial Board has undergone some key changes this year, some that have already improved the way we operate. The most notable has been the clarification of the requirements for serving on the Board. We have historically experienced difficulties running smoothly because students either ran when they were not allowed to or misunderstood stipulations to serving on specific panels.

To be more specific, you are not allowed to run if you plan on leaving Vassar for one of the semesters (e.g. studying abroad). Students are now required to check a box confirming that they will be on campus all year before submitting their application. Failure to report can result in an expulsion from the Board. In addition, students must also confirm, via check box, that they are comfortable with the Chair being privy to their history of misconducts. The Chair will not know what occurred should class representatives have violations on their record, but simply which panels they are not allowed to serve on. For example, if a student has a history of academic violations, the Board will not allow this Rep to serve on Academic Panels. There are several reasons for this that range from the perception of impartiality to ensuring that the Reps never have to recuse themselves from a panel due to an unbeknownst conflict, an experience that many could find embarrassing.

The Board has also taken strong steps to ensure that each class representative commits a considerable amount of time to their position. Last year, there was a disparity in attendance among Reps, with average absentees ending above four per semester. This also indicated that some students were dedicating inordinate amounts of time to the board, serving on as many as three to four ti mes as many panels as their fellow board reps. I understood this to be not only an unfair burden on the few and a failure by the many, but also an injustice to students who elected reps to represent them in the judicial system. Accordingly, when running for the Chair position last spring, I pledged to make this issue a cornerstone of my potential chairmanship. Maintaining that as one of the key promises from my platform, I now feel that we’ve addressed this inexcusable inequity.

By creating a master list of everyone’s class schedule and a contemporaneous attendance sheet, I’m proud to say we now have an average absentee of one. It should be noted that I am a political science major who partially (read: mostly) chose Vassar because I knew I would never have to take a single math class. Yet even someone as quantitatively inept as myself realizes that this significant decrease means each representative is truly fulfilling their responsibilities.

While these may seem like minor reforms, their effect substantially improves the efficiency of the Board. But there is still more we can do.  While we have established our first website, I will be the first to concede that it is still in its preliminary form. It needs to be improved, though even I am unsure of the direction in which it should take. As I mentioned in my last piece, it would be greatly appreciated if any of you had feedback regarding additions that could be made to the page.

Most students don’t completely understand how our judicial branch operates in relation to the administration, and it’s imperative that we work on addressing any misconceptions.

If you have a strong feeling about the Board or the overall process, especially if it’s negative, please feel free to contact me. Even throw in an expletive here or there, so long as it contributes to improving the Board I am content to hear any complaints.

Enjoy spring’s unfashionably late arrival, everyone. You may see me lathering on my SPF 75 out there, and I’ve always got backup for those of you who also struggle in the sun.

 

—Evan Seltzer ’14 is Chair of the Judicial Board.

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