The Chico State Judicial Affairs mission statement describes “[advancing] student development by adjudicating reports in a timely, consistent and fair manner” as a key goal, yet the rules and culture surrounding Judicial Affairs are predatory and exist only to protect the school.
Imagine being a freshman caught with cannabis in the dorms. You’re sent to Judicial Affairs and told not to worry, that any punishment will essentially be a slap on the wrist. You’re pressured to sign a form that has you admit to what you’ve done and have the incident go away. In ten minutes, you’re sent back to class and relief washes over you now that the anxiety of punishment is over.
Except you’ve just signed a document that admits you’ve committed a crime. Now imagine that instead of a cannabis violation you were caught with alcohol, and an underage friend that got drunk off your alcohol was hurt. You’ve just admitted your complicity in a much more serious crime.
Some students are smart enough to not be pressured by Judicial Affairs, but most students will likely be too scared. Many of those sent to Judicial Affairs are freshman living in the dorms, frightened by the possibility of losing housing over an infraction.
The contracts admitting guilt may seem like a lifeboat, but it’s doubtful these students are aware they’ll be admitting guilt to a crime that could be used against them later.
Judicial Affairs isn’t some horror story spoken among students, their predatory nature is described outright in their student conduct procedures.
Students are not allowed to have attorneys present unless their proceeding involves “discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual misconduct, dating or domestic violence, or stalking.” Even if their case meets these criteria attorneys can only act as an “Advisor” and “an Advisor may not speak on a Student’s or Complainant’s behalf.”
There is no reason to prevent attorneys from representing students who are asked to sign forms that could implicate them in serious crimes. The college is using Judicial Affairs to quickly end incidents on campus for its own benefit, not for the benefit of the student.
People need to answer for their crimes, but Judicial Affairs circumvents the right of the accused of the benefit of the college. Pressuring students who aren’t aware of their rights or of the consequences of their actions isn’t justice, it’s cowardice.
Grayson Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or @Grayboyer on Twitter.