Column: SJS: ‘Scab’ Judicial Services

The people making disciplinary decisions on campus are students wearing white gloves and flowing robes. You would be proud to see one of your peers dressed so prominently; I know I am proud just thinking about it. But I am much more embarrassed than proud knowing that these students are not dressed up for Halloween or any good reason at all. They are dressed up so they can feel less like students and more like powerful decision-makers. Sadly enough, it works.

When I hear the words Student Judicial Services, I chuckle to myself. They are just so silly over there at SJS that I can’t help but laugh. They have a funny name. The department itself is very funny. Kind of like Colonial Inauguration, the dominant function of SJS is to convince students GW is something it is not. When they say Student Judicial Services, those are code words for ‘we have unlimited leverage over students and student activities.’ There is no disciplinary system at GW. In reality, the judicial process at GW amounts to nothing more than powerful administrators operating absent any student rights or statutory guidelines.

The Hearing Board, the arm of SJS that renders non-academic disciplinary decisions, is a one of GW’s most powerful institutions. In order to ensure that students are not meaningfully included, members of the Hearing Board can only be hand picked through an unspecified process by administrators. Maybe we should be thankful students are included at all.

The result of the Hearing Board selection process is a group of students unrepresentative of the student body. Students should have the opportunity to elect their so-called “representatives.” The skewed selection process is disturbing, but even more disturbing is how seemingly dishonest the whole system is. At a minimum, the Student Association should be able to appoint a portion of the membership to the Hearing Board in order for SJS to claim student inclusion. Just saying that students are on the Hearing Board is not enough. Administrators cannot and should not be trusted to provide adequate representation for students. We need to do it ourselves.

You might wonder why it is so important to the administration to maintain such omnipotence over student life; allow me to indulge you. There is actually a very good explanation for the whole thing. You see, when student leaders or children of benefactors get in trouble, there needs to be a good way to make sure nothing bad happens to them. Although I have no direct evidence to prove this, I have three years of ‘non-evidence’ I am very comfortable pointing to. The leverage in the system allows administrators to protect the lucky among us and overcompensate by screwing the unlucky among us.

Although SJS is a funny Orwellian name for what is really going on at GW, the whole disciplinary situation represents a systematic problem. Instead of trying to control everything, administrators need to let students take an active role on campus. The worst part about it is that SJS and administrators pretend that students are running the show. Students play no meaningful role in the disciplinary system whatsoever. We have a few of our own acting like they are representing us, but they have nothing to do with us. They are there because of administrators, not students. They owe their white gloves and robes to administrators, not students. They work for them but they are supposed to represent us. I am not even sure what they mean by Student Judicial Services.

-The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.