Letter to the Editor: On the Bylaws of the Board of Judicial Affairs

Oct. 17, 2013, 6:02 p.m.

Dear Editor,

We’d like to clarify information in the Oct. 16 article “ASSU Senate to vote on bill overruling Board of Judicial Affairs (BJA) bylaw changes.” The article suggests there was no student input into the bylaws of the BJA and that the bylaws were implemented by the BJA when the Senate was out of session. This isn’t true.

The Board on Judicial Affairs is “a standing committee of students, faculty and staff” created by the Student Judicial Charter “to oversee all aspects of judicial affairs.” The Board has six voting student members appointed by the ASSU Nominations Commission. The BJA has three powers: to adopt or modify bylaws, to adopt and/or to modify the Student Conduct Penalty Code and to propose amendments to the Charter.

During the 2012-13 academic year, the BJA met 11 times. In fall and winter quarters, the BJA learned about the recently finalized Internal Review Panel Report and worked with the Undergraduate Senate and Graduate Student Council to make changes to the Alternate Review Process (ARP). After the revisions of the ARP were finalized, the BJA turned to the Honor Code and formed subcommittees.

Work from the subcommittees was forwarded by members as proposed bylaws. They were discussed and passed at the meetings on May 21 and June 4. Per the Charter, the co-chairs of the BJA “forward[ed] the text of the changes to the chair of the Undergraduate Senate of the Associated Students of Stanford University, the chair of the Graduate Student Council of the Associated Students of Stanford University, the chair of the Senate of the Academic Council and the President of the University” (III.A.2.2). This happened on June 11, and the memo was from co-chairs Michele Dauber and Jonathan York.

Members of the Office of Community Standards (OCS), which is separate from the BJA, met with ASSU executives over the spring and summer and shortly before the start of classes to improve communication between the ASSU and OCS. On Sept. 25, Koren Bakkegard contacted ASSU leaders about the bylaws on behalf of the BJA. Bakkegard reminded them of the memo and wrote, “The Charter does not specify a timeline for the entities to exercise their authority to overrule them, but it will be helpful for the BJA and OCS to know sooner rather than later if any might be overruled.” Bakkegard also suggested that the Undergraduate Senate and GSC might talk with the two student members of the ’12- ’13 BJA who would be returning to the ’13- ’14 BJA “in the event you would like to talk with student representatives about the changes and rationale.”

Discussions of the Honor Code, Student Judicial Charter and judicial process are important, and they should be informed by facts. As the article correctly states, we asked to attend the Undergraduate Senate meeting Tuesday night to “focus on establishing a better working relationship between the ASSU and the OCS.” For that to happen, we need to work with students in good faith with accurate information.

In addition, since an Internal Review Panel was convened in Fall 2010, OCS has engaged in a review of the judicial process that included student forums. The recommendations from the 18-month review, as well as some concerns from a case study, provided information on which to base procedural and administrative changes. The case study informed some of the changes made, and to characterize it as not relevant is inaccurate. However, to focus on the case study at this point given our progress is not productive.


Chris Griffith, Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life

Koren Bakkegard, Associate Dean and Director, Office of Community Standards

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