A typical experience with the rice judicial program
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 02:11
“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.)