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UCourt changes passed

By Joey Capparella     3/13/13 7:00pm


New amendments to the University Court constitution, bylaws, and procedures were passed in the recent Student Association general election as well as in the Student Senate. 

UCourt Chair Evan Austin said although many of the amendments are technical changes to ensure that procedures are clear, there are also a few substantive changes to processes. 

Austin said the most important part of these amendments was the addition of the plea "in violation but contesting sanctions" to the constitution. This means students found in violation of the Code of Student Conduct or the Rice Alcohol Policy can go to UCourt to contest their sanctions independently from contesting the violation. 

"Previously, students who admitted violations of the Code of Student Conduct or Rice Alcohol Policy were unable to bring their cases to UCourt," Austin, a Duncan College junior, said. "The previous process left student input out of sanctioning decisions for students who pled 'in violation.' We wanted to provide the option for students to have Student Judicial Programs' suggested sanctions reviewed by their peers in a wider variety of cases, rather than just limiting that resource to students contesting their charges." 

McMurtry College junior Daniel Burns said he supports this change to the constitution. 

"I'm definitely in favor of [the amendment]," Burns said. "Given the system of trust at Rice and the commitment to the Honor Code, you should give someone the ability to come forward but still explain the circumstances of what happened or why they did [what they did]." 

Austin also said changes were made to the investigation process in order to allow for increased flexibility in procuring witness testimonies. 

"We increased the discretion of the investigator in a case to allow witness testimony to be presented as a written summary of an interview, a signed written statement or in person," Austin said. "Previously, this decision was more about the witness's availability than about which option was most appropriate to the situation at hand." 

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