"Who dressed up as a police officer? Is this legit[imate]?" After you discover that your friend at the door is actually not a Nintendo character, but an officer from the Rice University Police Department, you begin to panic. You see alcohol all around you but cannot decide what to do next. Since Orientation Week, you have been taught that compliance is important, but what does that actually mean? You hand over your student ID, and the officer swiftly writes down that terribly unfortunate number. What happens now?
So what exactly occurs after an infraction such as a Minor in Consumption? While many different courses of action exist, your college's University Court representative is best equipped to answer that question. So, in order to better understand this somewhat confusing process, I spoke to my own representative, Hanszen College sophomore Rohit Reddy. After a discussion, here are some possible and generalized explanations to the question of what happens after a citation a for first-time MIC.
Starting with the RUPD officer, the result of such an occurrence can take many different paths. Usually dependent on the severity of the infraction, the officer makes the decision whether to solely make a referral to Rice Student Judicial Programs or to also issue a Harris County ticket.
After it has become apparent that some form of disciplinary action has been taken, the various college masters will likely become involved. Even if the violation has not yet been directly reported to the masters, talking to your masters is an excellent opportunity to involve a figure of authority in the case. They can serve as guides throughout the process and can help assess the situation.
At this point, the officer has decided that the significance of the action has required the intervention of the official judicial body of Harris County. Legal counsel is highly suggested in order to ensure your rights are protected in this legal process. This will almost always accompany the additional internal proceedings of SJP, which is an independent process, the result of which is not dependent on the outcome of the Harris County process.
Student Judicial Programs
If the case has been referred to SJP, the office will determine what, if any, violations have occurred and will issue associated sanctions in person at its office in Lovett Hall. In this meeting, the student will decide whether to accept the accusations and subsequent sanctions or to contest the violation of the Code of Student Conduct in further action within the University Court system. UCourt refers to this procedure as pleading "in violation" or refusing to submit to such allegations. If the student feels falsely accused, then pleading "in violation" is not necessary. Importantly, UCourt determines which violations occurred and the appropriate sanctions based on further review; this process is not limited to SJP's initial findings, and the initial sanctions can be increased, reduced or upheld based on UCourt's findings.
Students who believe they are not in violation of the Code of Student Conduct, they can appeal the SJP decision and request a preliminary review by their peers on UCourt. During this phase, the accused student prepares a written statement and files it for the preliminary review. UCourt subsequently issues a decision and corresponding sanctions that it feels best fit the violation. This can increase, diminish or uphold the sanctions initially determined by SJP.
After learning of the results of the preliminary review, the student once again has the opportunity to contest the decision. At this phase, the student can request a formal investigation and hearing. At the in-person tribunal, the student has the opportunity to bring witnesses and present formal testimony. At this stage, a UCourt member also interviews the referring RUPD officer to analyze and corroborate the various stories. Also, the student's residential college's UCourt representative serves as an ombudsperson to provide procedural guidance throughout the process. Unless very particular circumstances necessitate another round of appeals, the ensuing sanctions and decisions are largely final. (Such appeals involve Associate Dean of Undergraduates Don Ostdiek and, in cases involving suspension, a second appeal to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson.)
If the student is found not in violation, the UCourt process ends. Otherwise, the student is found in violation of the Code of Student Conduct. If a student is found in violation, an internal record will be kept for 10 years. As such, this information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. However, most programs of graduate education - including law schools and medical schools - require that these accusations be accounted for in the assorted applications. The typical sanctions of a citation such as an MIC include the following: a CHOICES class with the Rice University Wellness Center, a university-imposed fine, an evaluation with the Rice Counseling Center and the issuance of a disciplinary warning.
The CHOICES program is specifically offered by the Wellness Center to help students analyze their drinking habits and their implicit safety concerns with a focus on making safer decisions with regard to alcohol. As per the Wellness Center website, the program is encouraged for all Rice students and can help students make educated decisions regarding alcohol usage.
While not considered punitive, SJP uses the fine to encourage students to seriously evaluate their behavior and decisions. It adds gravity to the situation and encourages a felt and monetary presence of the situation. Although certain standards exist, the fines are greatly variable dependent upon the situation. Influencing factors include the severity of the violation and any mitigating or aggravating factors relevant to the particular situation as determined by SJP or UCourt.
Although the entirety of the process is at times confusing, Rice's intricate judicial policy largely tends toward involving students as often as possible. The cooperation of RUPD and likewise supportive administrative officials makes possible a system by which democratic peer governance remains a possibility.