When you think about the Associated Student Government (ASG), what comes to mind? You may think of Student Body President Nick Huber giving speeches or the Student Senate attempting to revamp the Miami Plan. However, there is a third branch of Student Government that deserves mention: the Student Court. As the Judicial Branch of ASG, the Court hears cases brought to them by the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR).
Who is the Student Court? The Student Court is (and can be) you. It is a group of 17 students, from sophomores to seniors. One need not be interested in law or involved in the pre-law program, and anybody can participate.
Currently on the Court, there are English literature, classical humanities, finance, accounting, history, political science and physical science majors.
Not only are they involved in Student Court, but they also participate in everything from fraternities and sororities to the Swing Dancing Club, the Mock Trial Program, business organizations and much more. Members are encouraged to be well-rounded and active on campus.
The court is divided into two different sessions, each meeting once a week. What kinds of cases do they hear? Whenever a Resident Assistant writes up a student, that student has the ability to appeal the punishment. The Student Court hears those cases that deal with non-suspendable punishments.
New powers were added to the court this year, and now they can hear cases involving funding disputes from organizations.
For example, should the “insert organization here” feel they were taken advantage of or not given equal treatment by ASG, that organization can appeal the case to the court. This gives the court a more active role in campus activities, making sure each organization receives equal benefits.
While not exactly Law & Order, a Student Court session involves opening statements by the defendants, questioning by the justices and a deliberation period.
Questions can vary, as justices attempt to understand exactly what went on that caused the student to get into hot water. After the court believes it has all the information it needs, it goes into a deliberative period. During that time, justices work together to come to a reasonable conclusion. Each justice gives their impression of the case and they work to come to a consensus. Finally, the defendant is brought back into the room and the decision is given.
Recruitment for Student Court is also starting soon. Just yesterday, the active application was put up on the Judicial Affairs website. On the Blackboard site, search Judicial Affairs and follow the link to the application. The application involves your basic information as well as a question and answer portion. Those invited to subsequent rounds will be questioned and observed by current Justices and your critical thinking skills will be examined.
Being a Student Court Justice is an awesome responsibility. You will be asked to judge your peers and decide whether or not they will face university sanctions.
You will be asked to assess the truthfulness or untruthfulness of your peers as well. Justices hold the power over whether or not a student is sanctioned by the university.
You would be able to prevent a student from incurring hundreds of dollars in fines for an act they did not commit. Mistakes do happen, and not every student written up by a RA requires sanctioning. Some students are truly in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yet the job of a Student Court Justice is not easy. Facing a fellow student, accused of wrongdoing, will test your ability. But with that challenge comes great opportunity.
The Student Court provides an excellent opportunity for members to hone their decision-making skills and leadership abilities while working in a collaborative and fast-paced learning environment.
Justices have the ability to right wrongs, and to make sure students are not unfairly punished.
You are able to work with a group of 20 other students to make decisions involving sanctions, as well as cases involving campus organizations looking for equal treatment. Giving my time to the Student Court is one of the most fulfilling things I have done through my four years at Miami University and I urge those interested to get involved.