ASSU ethics reforms pitched

Jan. 6, 2010, 12:04 a.m.

Little consensus on how to avoid judicial surprises

Last night’s Senate ethics discussion followed a flurry of proposed changes that made the rounds on the group’s public e-mail list last month, prompting a rare response from head of Student Activities and Leadership Nanci Howe as the group broke for finals.

At the undergraduates’ Dec. 1 meeting, several senators grilled ASSU President David Gobaud on how he handled the fallout from his former vice president’s resignation, Jay de la Torre ’10. After the meeting, Senator Lee Jackson ‘12 said he wanted help writing a bill that would bar elected ASSU officials from serving as judicial affairs panelists.

Gobaud ‘08 M.S. ‘10 was serving as a panelist last summer when he said he was accidentally handed the case file of his vice president, who happened to be responding to a plagiarism accusation at the time.

In response to Jackson, Senator Adam Creasman ‘11 offered another idea: to allow elected ASSU officials to be notified if an official is found responsible of a Fundamental Standard or Honor Code violation by Judicial Affairs.

“What if the charges are without basis?” asked Senator Michael Cruz ‘12. “Should we strip someone of their ability to run for office just because they are under review, whether or not those charges are verified?”

Current judicial panelist Thom Scher ‘11 chimed in, noting that “to notify after guilt, but before sanctioning isn’t entirely feasible” because of the timing of the judicial affairs process.

Howe added her two cents Dec. 4 in a self-described “rare” moment of e-mail list participation. She said she wanted to emphasize the rights of accused students.

“A key part of the ASSU constitution includes the ‘rights of the accused,’ which discusses issues of confidentiality and the concept of students are considered innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Howe wrote.

“I believe that decisions regarding leader conduct would have to be in keeping with the rights of the accused for all students, including ASSU leaders,” she said. “Changes to this [system] would have to be approved as an amendment to the constitution in a student body election and then approved by the University president.”

She advised student leaders to refer to the University’s code of conduct for an example as they move ahead with ethics reforms discussions.

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