Schools use different types of judiciary committees

by Alice Gomstyn | 5/9/00 5:00am

With last term's Computer Science 4 cheating scandal and this term's Initiative announcements by the Board of Trustees, the makeup of the College's judicial board is now in the spotlight.

While Dartmouth may soon have a two-part judicial system, with one committee -- the Committee on Standards -- overseeing cases of individual misconduct while another, yet-to-be-created body handling cases involving all organizational misconduct, other schools have found different ways to handle disciplinary matters.

Of the schools interviewed by The Dartmouth, only one did not have students involved in its judicial system.

Harvard University has one undergraduate judicial body -- the Administrative Board of Harvard College, according to Thurston Smith, the secretary of the board.

The board, which hears "everything from extremely routine petitions for variations of the rules ... or disciplinary cases of all kinds," consists of 30 deans and administrators -- and no students, Smith said.

"There has been a movement among students from time to time to have students incorporated into the administrative board, but since it's a faculty committee, it's not allowed by the college rules," Smith said.

Smith stressed, however, that such movements are rare and that Harvard's judicial system serves the college well.

Many other schools use the two-part system that Dartmouth is examining.

Princeton University has a two-part judicial system. According to the university's "Rights, Rules and Responsibilities" guide, cases of student misconduct are heard by the Residential College Disciplinary Board, composed of the five administrators and the Associate Dean of Student Life.

The Committee on Discipline -- comprising five students selected by Princeton's student government, four elected faculty members, the dean of student life and the dean of undergraduate students -- handles cases of alleged academic infractions.

Cornell University also has a two-tiered judicial system, according to Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell News Service. Unlike Princeton, however, the system is structured hierarchically, with one appellate body -- the University Review Board -- serving only to hear cases appealing decisions made first by the University Hearing Board.

The University Hearing Board, which hears cases involving alleged violations of Cornell's "Regulations for the Maintenance of the Educational Environment," consists of eight students, 12 faculty members and eight employees of the university, each elected by their respective peers and colleagues.

The University Review Board is composed of three elected voting members -- a student, a member of the faculty and an employee -- as well as a nonvoting faculty member appointed by the president of the university, whose serves as chairperson of the committee.

At the University of Pennsylvania, an entire department -- the Office of Student Conduct -- is devoted to dealing with undergraduate disciplinary matters.

"We do the groundwork for all disciplinary complaints and make the first decisions if a student is charged," Michelle Goldfarb, director of the Office of Student Conduct, said.

If a student disagrees with the office's findings -- which may include proposed sanctions against the student -- he or she may appeal its decision to an ad-hoc panel composed of either two students and three faculty members for cases of academic integrity or three students and two faculty members for cases of alleged student misconduct.

Students and faculty members are chosen from predetermined pools, with the student government selecting the student members and the Faculty Senate, Penn's faculty governing board, nominating the faculty members.

Among other schools, Williams College has an Honor Committee dealing with offenses such as plagiarism and a subcommittee that handles disciplinary matters such as violations of the school's behavioral principles, according to Stephen Sneed, associate dean of Williams.

The Honor Committee is composed of both faculty and student members. Students are elected to serve on the committee through a campus-wide student vote. The disciplinary subcommittee consists of all of the students on the Honor Committee as well as three Honor Committee faculty members.

Middlebury College uses three separate judicial boards, according to Marichal Gentry, associate dean of Student Affairs, and each is "basically student initiated."

The Student Judicial Council, composed of students and one faculty advisor, is responsible for handling only cases of cheating, specifically on exams.

Another organization, the Judicial Review Board, composed of two student and two faculty members, hears cases of plagiarism.

The third judicial body is the Community Judicial Board. It is made up of faculty, staff and students of the college and is "intended to uphold the standards of the Middlebury College community," Gentry said.

Students are chosen to serve on each board by Middlebury's student government association.

Farther south, at Duke University, Dean Gerald Wilson said there is one undergraduate judicial board which hears cases of students who have been charged with either disciplinary or academic offenses.

According to Wilson, the board is a combination of students, faculty and administration, with at least one member of each constituency required to be present at each board hearing.

Students are chosen to serve on the board by outgoing student board members after an interviewing process.

Duke also has several residential judicial boards that handle offenses committed in dormitories.

Planning for the creation of a new judicial committee at Dartmouth dealing exclusively with cases of organizational misconduct is to begin in the coming months, according to Dean of the College James Larimore.