Student court is ‘for the students, by the students’
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 01:10
Student court is the judicial branch of Associated Student Government (ASG). Its two main functions are to check on the executive and legislative branches of ASG and to settle Code of Student Conduct violations.
If a student has an upper-level offense where he or she may be subjected to suspension or expulsion, the student must go before the disciplinary board or appeals board of the university.
According to Greg Bieler, chief justice of the student court, the student court hears non-suspension student cases.
“Most offenses that we look at are either 105B or 105A. 105B is the prohibited use and/or possession of alcohol while 105A is intoxication/inebriation,” Bieler said. “But we can also hear cases about academic dishonesty, vandalism, drug recreational use or damage to the university’s property.”
Bieler said although all students are subjected to the student court, he noticed many students tried are first-years, usually with their first offense.
Bieler also stated that students can bring in witnesses or character witnesses to their hearing. A character witness is one who attests to a student’s good reputation.
Glenn Muschert, co-chair of the disciplinary board, recommended students bring a character witness who is a contributing member to the university’s community.
“Some students bring people from the [Miami] community from their sports team, club or even a coach or adviser,” Muschert said. “These are people who have something to lose by giving a faulty account, and that means a lot to us when it’s not just someone’s friend or fraternity brother.”
According to the website of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR), the student is allowed to be advised by a person of his or her choice. Advisers are not required, but they are strongly encouraged. It could be a friend, family member, faculty member or attorney.
The website states attorneys are allowed to be present during the hearing, listen to evidence, provide advice for the student and advise him or her on what they should say during the deliberation, but the attorney is not allowed to ask questions or speak on the student’s behalf.
A student can have access to a student advocate as well as his or her own personal adviser. A student advocate is a justice of the student court and volunteers his or her time. If the student has a question or concern, he or she can contact his or her advocate who is also allowed to be present at his or her hearing.
Graham Hunter, a graduate student who works in OESCR and serves as adviser to the student court, is responsible for overseeing the hearing process, making sure all the policies are being followed and advising the 17 student court justices. The adviser is not a part of the deliberation process.
Hunter said that the student court is first and foremost about the wellbeing of Miami students.
“The student court is by Miami students and for Miami students,” Hunter said.
Bieler expressed his interest in clarifying the role of the court.
“We want to be known as more than just the punishers,” Bieler said. “We really have the intention of making an impact this year and being visible so that people understand who we are and what our mission is.”
Student court hearings occur on an as-needed basis. Hearings are led by either Chief Justice Greg Bieler or Chief Justice Pro Tempore Lauren Yates.
Bieler encouraged students who have an interest in law to get involved with the student court.
The application process begins early in the spring semester. Firstears, sophomores and juniors can apply if they are full time students and in good standing with the university.