Friday, April 4, 2008

A Really Serious and Substantative Post: Student Judicial Advisors Interview

This post is Serious so you better listen, it's all kinds of newsworthy.

Freshman my roommate was, well, an idiot Thurston freshman. After an eight floor OMG COLLEGE!!! vandalism marathon he and some friends were promptly caught by UPD and sent to Student Judicial Services. The preliminary letters they received said suspension was the absolute lightest punishment they would receive while expulsion was the most likely. I, personally, was bummed because he was the only person in my quad that liked ordering Chinese (normally one person alone can't meet the minimum order for the restaurant to deliver... I've always been selfish) In his "You're getting kicked out of school SUCKA!" letter sent by SJS was an attached flyer detailing a group called Student Judicial Advisors, SJA, who represented students in code of conduct cases. In the end SJA helped keep him in school and allowed me to still order various tofu dishes biweekly. I interviewed Kara Eusebio, former head of SJA, about the organization and its role on campus.

AC: Could you describe what SJA does?
KE: Basically SJA helps out students who are being charged with violating the code of conduct. We help them navigate GW's judicial policies and talk them through what they'll be facing when they sit in front of a university hearing board or disciplinary conference. Often times, we will actually sit with them in their hearing board or conference. We're NOT lawyers-during the hearings, we don't get to speak. And we're not just interested in "getting people off"-we try to find a way to get the least harsh sanction possible for the violation someone has committed.

AC: What is its role on campus, do students know about it?
KE: SJS appreciates having us because we help to explain to students the ins and outs of GW judicial policy. Students are more likely to come to a peer and talk than go to a director of SJS. Students have become more and more aware of our role on campus as more people have gotten involved. SJS lets students know about us when they are called in to talk about being charged and we gave out bottle openers this year with our name and contact information.

AC: How are you viewed by SJS?
KE: As I said before, SJS appreciates us because we help explain policies to students. We make going in front of SJS less scary because we know the ins and outs of the process. SJS' goal is not to throw out every student because they once had a beer in Thurston. And SJS appreciates that we understand that and explain it to our peers.

AC: What are the policies about taking cases? Is there anything you cannot take? Do you have certain obligations about cases (things you can/cannot say?)
KE: Basically when we are sent a case (through e-mail, phone, someone coming up to us on the street), we pass on the case to an advisor. If it's a particuarly difficult case, we'll put two advisors on it-and have those advisors be some of our strongest ones. I don't believe we've ever had a case we couldn't take. However, when an advisor has a friend who is in trouble, we try to steer clear of giving them the case, just to avoid a conflict of interest-or bad blood if things don't work out like the friend hoped they would. Advisors are under the strictest confidence to not repeat to anyone what the person coming to the advisor has to say-it's just not fair. We cannot say to the person "you're going to just get probation" or anything of certainty-because we don't make the decisions. We can't promise them anything about the outcome of the case. However, we can promise them to do our best and share with them sanctions for similar cases (no names, specifics involved).

The current director of SJA is Mike Salad: For help concerning a case contact him at msalad@gwu.edu

1 comment:

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