The student senate is considering adding a third branch to Student Government at the University of Dallas in the form of a student judiciary.
This judiciary would be comprised of UD students and would handle cases where students have committed minor infractions such as violating hall visiting hours.
Currently senators are unsure of what structure the judiciary would take or how much power would be given to this judiciary.
According to vice-president Lili Serna, “It’s as theoretical as it can get.”
In order to explore the possibility of a student judiciary, gather students’ concerns about such an entity and brainstorm ideas for this body’s structure, a Judicial Review Committee was created at the beginning of the semester.
This committee is headed by sophomore senator Stratton Garrard and is open to all interested students who have ideas regarding the judiciary or concerns that they would wish to voice.
The committee is in the process of executing a four-step plan where senators first find other similar universities that have student judiciaries.
They will then gather students’ concerns at town halls, before asking the selected universities about the student concerns.
Finally, after all student concerns have been addressed, the senate will vote on the implementation of the judiciary.
The committee has mostly completed the first step and is now looking to the town halls to gather students’ concerns about the judiciary.
“If you want to do something about it, show up to the town halls,” Serna said. “We have some of the finest thinkers on campus, and that’s a really good thing. We want to utilize that.”
“[Student jurors] need background checks, they need to check their GPA,” senior English major Emily Johnson said. “This is way too much responsibility.”
“It could go very badly or it could go very well,” senior classics major Quincy Gholston said. “Be careful who you choose. It’s not a popularity contest. Choose diverse people.”
Others have expressed that they were very uncomfortable with students having the power to control the fate of their fellow students.
The fear of having jurors with heavy biases, having a flexible system where punishments are not consistent and the idea that the Office of Student Affairs was trying to use this as a way to lessen backlash towards them, were all expressed.
Other students were more comfortable with the idea of a student judiciary, but still held a few reservations.
“I think it would definitely depend on who we get as our justices,” freshman Austin Lux said. “If we did get a great group of kids together, I’m sure that the system should work.”
“On more minor infractions, very minor stuff, I’d be okay with letting other students decide that,” freshman Sam Regnerus said. “But when it comes to major stuff … I don’t think I’d necessarily trust a decision like that on a student yet.”
Many students valued the opportunity for students to become jurors and gain that experience.
“I think it’s extremely valuable, which is why I would be fine with it on a much lower level,” Regnerus said.
Lux said, “I think that it would be a great opportunity since we already have the legislature as well as the executive body within our government, so add the judicial. It makes sense.”
Student Body President Angelo Novello said that the student senate would give ample time and thought to the idea of a judiciary.,
“We’re going to have to be clever in the way that we set it up,” Novello said. “We’re gonna have to figure out a way that makes it fair and equitable for everybody.”
According to Garrard, this semester is dedicated to figuring out what students’ concerns are regarding the judiciary and addressing them. Should the project be approved, implementation processes would be discussed next semester.
If students are receptive to the idea and the senate approves, next semester would be dedicated to building up the structure of the judiciary and figuring out all the logistics of this new branch of Student Government.
Students are greatly encouraged to go to Judicial Review Committee meetings and Town Halls and voice their concerns.
“I really would encourage people to get involved, because this isn’t something that would just affect us,” Novello said. “If this becomes a part of student government, it could have lasting effects,” Novello said. “So we want to do it right and we want to get everyone involved.”
Serna ended by saying, “Our mission as [the] Student Government is to hear student concerns, not to push an agenda.”