Widgets Magazine

Misconduct alleged in Honor Code trials

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

 

About Catherine Zaw

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email czaw13@gmail.com.
  • Reid Spitz

    This is Reid Spitz, founder of the Student Justice Project. To read the 23 testimonials our group amassed, follow this link:

    http://stanford.edu/~rspitz/testimonials.pdf

    Thanks!

  • Guest

    Let’s be real here, this lawyer Ottilie is not Jesus Christ coming to Stanford to fight for justice for students. I called him about a case I had at judicial affairs and he said he wanted $450/hour and a $5000 retainer and when I told him I was a poor college student who wanted to fight for what is simply fair, he said he had a child to feed and tuition to pay and that he had to go because my 15 minutes on the phone with him was not worth his time because I couldn’t afford him. Those so called “free” services prior to this “Student Justice Project” were for his spoiled and undisciplined fraternity brothers who most likely deserve to be punished for their crap. Did your parents get so pissed at Stanford that they are now investing in free counsels or is Ottilie bored as hell and wants to spice up his career? Oh wait, Ottilie saw the light and wants to fight for those poor frat boys? Awww. Pleassse! You guys need to stop trying to use Stanford’s name to propel your careers. If you want to start a career in politics and want a really nice essay to write for law school, start fighting for real problems in this world! I’m glad there is dialogue about this but for God’s sake, calling a press conference?! 1 or 2 stories about this in the Daily was enough to make the point and create change but this is just becoming a clown show. Yes, the OCS is not prefect but they are operated by good people who want to make it better. This is coming from someone who saw weakness in the system and could have been screwed over but then was comforted knowing that there are good people there who can read between the lines. There is an appeal process for convictions. Our Vice-Provost and Dean of Students are good people and I’m sure if they saw some legitimacy in an appeal, they’d support a new hearing.

  • parent

    Why am I not surprised by this? I applaud the students for dealing with this issue. Also, they may cooperate with http://www.fire.org . Some pretty scary stuff about Stanford.

  • Guest

    From my personal experience, I can only say that the office of community standards is a disgrace to the Stanford name. The employees vary between completely incompetent to downright crooks. While I am glad that the Justice Project is finally doing something about this, I fear that scores of students have already been wrongly convicted by this absurd system. The amount of man-hours wasted, along with the unending pain and suffering which an innocent student going through this process experiences are enough to strongly suggest that there is something wrong with this system. The injustices which permeate the process (due, no doubt, to the incompetence and misguided actions of the OCS staff) only reinforce this. The time to change this process is long overdue.

  • what

    When you get in trouble you deserve a break on lawyer fees, but when members of a fraternity get in trouble they’re “spoiled and undisciplined” and deserve whatever charges — which, while yours were questionable, must be valid — are brought upon them? Who’s spoiled, entitled, prejudiced, and full of it now? People in fraternities are not bad or stupid because they are social (in fact, that they can maintain a high level of academic excellence while being social shows that they’re perhaps more impressive), or entitled because they can afford legal advice. I hope you’re enjoying your time in the Stanford bubble, because you’re not going to like the real world.