By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Student Congress Wednesday approved by a large margin a resolution that provides the groundwork for a student judicial panel that would hear appeals of everything “from parking tickets up to expulsions.”
The resolution, presented by Sen. Elliott Pittman, senior class, grants Students’ Association approval to the idea of a student-member judicial board, although Pittman said concrete plans are still being worked out between himself and Brian England, director of judicial affairs in the office of Campus Life.
“It won’t be a legal body,” Pittman told Congress, “but it’s the closest thing students will have to it.”
Pittman said that according to discussions he has had with England, the disciplinary process would look like this under the new plan:
Students, when brought before England, would be given the option of defending themselves to England or to a five-member judicial review board made up of students who would not be members of Congress. The board would decide responsibility and, if necessary, sanctions.
Any sanctions prescribed by the board would be channeled through Campus Life approval, however.
The board would not be open to the public, and all sitting students would be required to sign confidentiality agreements. Only sex crimes and offenses and expulsions would be outside the jurisdiction of the board at this point, Pittman said.
The vote to approve the resolution was 29-5 with no abstentions.
* Executive treasurer Jonathan Wilkerson presented Bill 81-11, setting up an SA endowment fund. In order to begin siphoning money to the fund, Wilkerson also proposed a hike in the student fee of $15, to $45 per student each year.
Wilkerson defended that proposal, saying a steep hike now would prevent constant smaller increases in the future, as well as provide a large buffer to add to the endowment fund. If passed by Congress, an increase would also need to be approved by the President’s Cabinet and the student body. It would not take effect until Fall 2004.
* Congress unanimously passed Bill 81-06, the creation of the Student-Administration Advisory Board, which would consist of students, SA executive officers and high-level administration officials.
Sen. Erin Baldwin, junior class, sponsor of the bill, said the board would increase communication between students and the administration. The board’s creation now rests in the hands of the president, provost and other “administrative bodies, as necessary.”
* Congress passed Bill 81-10, changing the process through which members who miss meetings too many times must go. Chronically absent members-those missing more than 20 percent of the time-are automatically suspended and must apologize and defend themselves before Congress at the next meeting. If they appear and do so, Congress then may vote whether to reinstate or dismiss the member.
The bill passed 29-4, with four abstentions.