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A new disciplinary system needs student representation

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board

There are major changes being proposed to Miami University's disciplinary system that, if they are approved in April, will impact the way students are punished for their actions.

The university is currently rewriting major portions of the Code of Student Conduct in order to reshape the structure of the disciplinary system. Starting next year, Miami's Student Court will be abolished. The disciplinary board will be rebranded by a new "Love and Honor Board," and there will be a new process for handling cases not punishable by suspension.

For more information about how this new system will work, flip to the front page and check out our news coverage.

While this proposed system could make the disciplinary process a lot simpler and allow students to appeal lower-level violations (something we cannot do under the current system), it's not without its flaws. Namely, the planned recruitment efforts for the University Appeals Board and the Love and Honor Board reduce student representation. Before the Office of Community Standards (OCS) determines whether or not to appoint student representatives or require an application, we suggest they implement a system where students are allowed to openly elect justices.

While the traditional process may work for OCS, it does not work for the students who will be tried before these boards. Students deserve a say in the justices who will be appointed to the courts that will ultimately determine how they are disciplined.

We want to have a say in who is appointed to these boards because we deserve an empathetic and responsible disciplinary process that includes the voices of our peers.

This would encourage a more transparent vetting process of the justices, as they would face an election process similar to students running for Associated Student Government (ASG). Electing justices also gives them legitimacy because it says that their judgement and authority is valued by the student body who will be brought before them.

The second issue with the system is that students facing non-suspendable violations, such as alcohol infractions, have only one option, which is a one-on-one meeting with a staff member of OCS or the Office of Residence Life (ORL). They are not allowed a meeting and/or hearing with student input unless they appeal that staff member's decision to the University Appeals Board.

The proposed system needs to have an option for students facing non-suspendable offenses that includes representation from their peers before they reach an appeal process. It is only fair that a student being charged with a Code of Student Conduct violation have a fellow peer, who understands the student experience, be involved in the adjudication system from the onset.

Finally, the Office of Community Standards must be more open with students about disciplinary changes that could have serious effect on their lives. While it's good that OCS involved focus groups and sought student input, most of the student body is unaware of the proposed system.

Making these changes to the new system, as well as incorporating more transparency from OCS, will allow the student body to be more informed about these changes and a disciplinary system which works for the student body.

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The old system was needlessly complicated and difficult to understand, and in order to prevent the new system from becoming as flawed, more changes need to be made.