Staff Editorial: Wiping records for minor infractions

A new development shows the University is finally taking judicial reform seriously.

The two departments that replaced Student Judicial Services will now review infractions on a case-by-case basis, rather than provide a set of blanket punishments for typical college behavior.

But more importantly for current students, standing discipline records may be expunged. This is a critical improvement to judicial policy, as it means that some students who had committed minor infractions will still be eligible to serve in leadership roles like Colonial Cabinet and Presidential Administrative Fellowships. It will also open up the chance to study abroad for students previously barred because of their record.

SJS was often berated by the student body for doling out unfair and unforgiving punishments. But this move to consider wiping students’ records if they did not commit an egregious infraction is one that shows Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira and her staff is listening to the student body and willing to overhaul its policies.

The fact that students committing minor infractions in the future may not have judicial records is an incredibly promising move by the University. Where students who were caught just being students used to be prohibited from partaking in some important and valuable college experiences, now they can assume those roles.

The new model shifts the focus on minor infractions from punishment and a track record that follows you to education and curbing similar incidents from occurring again. This is a strong position for the University to take, as it shows that it is more committed to allowing students to move on from an infraction than subjecting them to an unfairly weighty specter from their prior mistakes.

By splitting SJS into two separate bodies, the University can focus more heavily on the more egregious cases that will be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, rather than heavily targeting students who commit more inconsequential actions.

Looking at each instance on a case-by-case basis also shows that SJS understands with minor infractions, there aren’t precedents that can lend to blanket policies. It is encouraging to see that Pereira and the judicial staff wants to foster safe behavior without slamming students with major punishments to send that message.

College students make mistakes. This policy move shows that the University understands that. If GW continues to consider student concerns and individual circumstances, students will ultimately be able to trust the new judicial offices. This is vital to fostering a more positive relationship between the University and the student body.

This editorial was updated Sept. 2 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet erroneously reported that the arm of the University’s judicial system that deals with egregious infractions is the Office of Civility and Community Standards. It is the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. We apologize for this error.

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