Misconduct alleged in Honor Code trials

Oct. 18, 2013, 2:28 a.m.

The Student Justice Project, a group alleging the University has subjected students to a biased judicial affairs process, has compiled testimonials from students, alumni and counsel about the Office of Community Standards (OCS). The statements, released at a press conference on Oct. 17, allege that the University intimidated students charged under the Honor Code and Fundamental Standard in operating a biased system that assumed guilt.

Reid Spitz '14 and Bob Ottilie '77 read statements alleging misconduct at a press conference on Oct. 17.  ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily
Reid Spitz ’14 and Bob Ottilie ’77 read statements alleging misconduct at a press conference on Oct. 17.
ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily

After releasing a 2011 case study that alleged OCS violations of the Student Judicial Charter of 1997 and misconduct on behalf of officials assigned to Judicial Affairs cases, the Student Justice Project raised issues against the OCS including intimidation of witnesses, violation of student privacy and refusing to cooperate with students subsequent to hearings.

Reid Spitz ’14, the founder of the Student Justice Project, outlines two main missions for the organization — to enforce the Student Charter of 1997, a document that defines the handling of all judicial cases at Stanford, and to educate the Stanford community about the “injustices that occur within the Office of Community Standards.”

The group has recruited Bob Ottilie ’77, a San Diego-based attorney, and is continuing to collect stories from the Stanford community. Ottilie and a group of attorneys have pledged to provide free legal counsel to students going through the Judicial Affairs process.

“Over the past few months, students, alumni, representatives, parents and even grandparents, have reached out to us to tell us about their experiences with the OCS,” Spitz said according to a prepared text. “Each and every testimony describes the plight of a Stanford student… being railroaded through a fundamentally flawed process with little to no regard for their rights.”

According to the statements released by Spitz and Ottilie, students, parents and counsel have accused the OCS of failing to follow due process. Many allege that the University and its officers denied Charter guarantees like access to witnesses and legal representation, and abused positions of power to intimidate students.

“The ‘neutral’ Judicial Advisor in my case co-authored a brief advocating for my conviction,” wrote an anonymous student charged with an Honor Code violation in 2012. “The one person, whom I was told I could trust, pretended to advise me confidentially before advocating for my conviction.”

“My advisor threatened me with a Fundamental Standard violation if I were to talk to the other student involved in my case,” wrote another student charged in 2013. “He later co-authored a brief arguing for my conviction.”

“The staff involved showed a clear lack of training and, consequently, have dangerously interpreted sections of the Stanford [Student] Judicial Charter to better suit their needs,” wrote Graham Gilmer ’05, an alumnus advisor to a student in the judicial process. “I am absolutely confident that innocent students have been found guilty through this slanted system.”

This post will be updated. For background reading on the Board of Judicial Affairs and the Office of Community Standards, please see the following: 

Text of the Student Judicial Charter of 1997 

2011 University Case Report showing the OCS obtained guilty findings in 87% of Fundamental Standard and Honor Code cases that go to a hearing

The Daily’s coverage of the 2011 case study: Case study finds flawed, slanted judicial process

May 15, 2013 Letter to the Editor (“An administrative response to the judicial process”) by Chris Griffith, Dean of Student Life

May 15, 2013 Letter from the Editor (“On Libel, Due Diligence and Intimidation”) by Miles Bennett-Smith ’13, Editor-in-Chief, Volume 243

Oct. 17, 2013 Letter to the Editor (“On the Bylaws of the Board of Judicial Affairs”) by Chris Griffith, Dean of Student Life and Koren Bakkegard, Director of the Office of Community Standards


Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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