Widgets Magazine

BJA bylaws to the Student Judicial Charter explained

In June, the Board on Judicial Affairs (BJA), a 15-member committee composed of students, faculty and administrators, voted to adopt eight bylaws to the Student Judicial Charter, aiming to clarify the policies and procedures to be followed during Stanford’s judicial process.

Student government leaders first realized this fall that the bylaws had been approved, and have since argued the BJA should have sought their input prior to adoption.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) last Wednesday exercised its veto power and overturned the eight bylaws, in part, because members said they had no input in the creation of the bylaws.

This week, the GSC and Undergraduate Senate will each vote on a bill to form a joint committee on judicial affairs, which would work with the BJA on creating a revised set of bylaws. With the discussion on the bylaws still ongoing, BJA co-chair Miles Seiver ’14 explained to The Daily what each was intended to achieve.

Click on the chart below to view each bylaw’s rationale.

correct one

Click here to read the Student Judicial Charter.

Click here to read the eight bylaws in detail.

Contact Kurt Chirbas at kchirbas ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • Please

    Can you re-post this with a larger image? The document is so small I can’t even read it.

  • Ilya M

    For the benefit of those reading this who are somewhat bemused, below is an email I sent to Senators on October 15th, shortly after I received notification of the “proposed” (they actually were already passed) changes.

    Ilya M, Student Life Chair, ASSU UG Senate


    Hi Senate Community:

    The Office of Community Standards has proposed a raft of changes to their own Bylaws, as well as Stanford’s interpretation of the Honor Code and the introduction of a Sanctioning Code (Penalty Code).

    The OCS has come under increased scrutiny over the last several months, especially in light of the recent case study (link: http://57vje3fqw032jqgx93yq531jak.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Judicial-Affairs-Case-Study-submitted-6-1-2012.pdf ) which finds significant OCS misconduct, including (emphasis mine):

    1. Charges brought against students who were not accused of cheating by a fellowstudent;
    2. Precluding effective direct and cross-examination questions at the hearing;
    3. The charging of one student for which there was no evidence or even a suggestion of cheating;
    4. Actions that raised the question of advocacy by the Judicial Affairs Judicial Officer in favor of conviction;
    5. Refusal to redact clearly and acknowledged irrelevant and prejudicial information from the Course Coordinator’s report provided to the hearing panel;
    **6. Telling the students they were not allowed to put on witnesses at the hearing;**
    7. Telling the students they were not allowed to cross-examine at the hearing;
    **9. Intimidation of witnesses;**
    **10. Violation of student privacy;**
    11. Inadequate training of the panel;
    **12. Shredding the case file in violation of University procedures;**
    13. Failure to bring charges against the Course Coordinator for intimidation of witnesses and violation of student privacy; and
    **14. Refusal to cooperate with the students subsequent to the hearing.**

    More on that story is here: http://www.stanforddaily.com/2013/05/13/case-study-finds-flawed-slanted-university-judicial-process/

    After reading through the proposed changes (which are linked to at the bottom of this email), I have many concerns. They are outlined below the cut (Italics is text from Documents, Bold is my comments) [Discus won’t carry this though, so I **bold** and //italicize// like this.]

    With these concerns in mind, I urge each senator to read over the proposed changes carefully and vote to overrule the specific changes I flag up below, unless suitable explanations can be provided by OCS staff.


    Bylaw amendments:

    >>>>//1. The Office of Community Standards will use the following charging standard: “Given the available information, a reasonable person could find the allegation(s) to be true.”//

    “A reasonable person ** *could*?” ** does not sound like a sufficiently strong standard.

    >>>>//4. Section II.A.4 of the Student Judicial Charter of 1997 provides the responding student the right “To be assured that their identity and the circumstances of allegations against them will be kept confidential, except in specific circumstances identified in the By-laws of the Board on Judicial Affairs.”

    Clarification of Section II.A.4 Bylaw:

    The Board on Judicial Affairs determines that the Office of Community Standards may share allegations and findings with other University Officials (as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) who have a legitimate reason to know in order to perform job responsibilities, support the student or support the mission of the University. //

    Surely there’s a reason the responding student is guaranteed privacy? Sharing their identity with such a wide group of people (for example — **do Graduate Admissions “support the mission of the University”?** I think they do) seems to go against the direct meaning of II.A.4. The current bylaw to II.A.4 currently reads:

    //As provided by Section II.A of the Student Judicial Charter of 1997, the Office of Judicial Affairs is committed to protecting the rights of individual students and confidentiality within the judicial process. At the same time, the Office of Judicial Affairs retains the following rights:
    To communicate with relevant Stanford University offices to confirm or refute information supplied by a student.
    To notify University offices that are responsible for the implementation of any sanctions determined by a Judicial Panel.
    In all judicial cases, any communication with University offices shall explicitly emphasize the importance of confidentiality and involve as few individuals as possible.//

    Note how the new version is significantly laxer than the old version.

    >>>>//6. Clarification of Section III.E Bylaw:

    Consistent with Section IX.A.3 of the Alternate Review Process, character or reputation evidence is not relevant during the fact-finding portion of the hearing. The Responding Student may provide positive character or reputation evidence during the sanctioning phase, if any.//

    Is this just for ARP or for all judicial processes?

    >>>>Proposed changes to Honor Code Interpretations:

    The new version of the honor code interpretation places less trust in students and more onus on faculty and administrators.

    No more explicit ban on proctoring throughout — introduction of course CA/TA loophole (old version – “should not be construed to prohibit an instructor or teaching assistant from remaining in the examination room for the first few minutes”, new version – “Instructors and teaching assistants may remain in the examination room”

    Dropping of all mentions of “unusual and unreasonable precautions”, which currently do not allow IDing, searching, watching those that leave”

    Allowing “Controlling what comes into the testing room”, opening the door to searches, banning of backpacks, etc.

    Dropping of discussion of take-home exam procedures, or “Procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code” (and the banning thereof)

    Dropping of all mention of “Basis of Grading” (that all work submitted for classes is subject to the Honor Code)

    Dropping of in-depth discussion of dual submission of work

    Introduction of vague generalities, such as “Take reasonable steps to discourage students from violating the Honor Code”, with no clarification

    >>>>Sanctioning Factors:

    Did this student fabricate evidence to avoid detection or deflect blame? How is this decided? Unilaterally? Isn’t this a separate case altogether?

    Did the student threaten the reporting party, witnesses, or others involved in the judicial process, or contact potential panelists? Who decided what constitutes a threat? Could cross-examination be construed as a threat? If there was a threat, isn’t that a matter to be dealt with outside the University system, or at least outside the specific case that is being decided? There are dozens of panelists — how is one to know who could be on the panel? In a collegiate atmosphere, isn’t such contact inevitable?


    Current bylaws are here: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/communitystandards/policy/charter-bylaws#rights

    Bylaw changes: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25791443/Senate/BJA%20Memo%20Re%20Proposed%20Bylaws.pdf

    Original HC interpretation: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25791443/Senate/Guide%20to%20Penalty%20Code%20Redline%20of%20Changes.pdf

    Proposed HC interpretation: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25791443/Senate/Proposed%20Honor%20Code%20Interpretations.pdf

    Penalty Code Redline: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25791443/Senate/Guide%20to%20Penalty%20Code%20Redline%20of%20Changes.pdf