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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

JAMS process is unfair

The purpose of an educational institution is to serve the student body. A school is a business, but one that operates on the primary purpose of educating and bettering the future of its students. It is important for departments such as JAMS to earn the students' trust and faith. In one way, JAMS has been overactive in its pursuit of enforcement and punishment. We are all adults and can for the most part manage our own problems. When intervention from JAMS is necessary, it must not be so zealous in exacting punishment. JAMS must teach us where we have gone wrong and not make us feel guilty and problematic.

There was a recent incident that I feel was handled poorly by JAMS. An altercation involving two students broke out and the conflict escalated to a physical level. The incident resulted in no injuries or damaged property, and ended with both parties walking away. However, when the incident is put into context, one of the parties was a Resident Assistant and the other a fifth-year student athlete. The RA questionably overstepped his authority and the student athlete was technically trespassing after being barred from the dorms. While it seems obvious that the RA was merely doing his job, the conflict was possibly rooted in some personal dislike between the two students that was never made clear.

When the matter was brought to JAMS, any and all context was thrown out and the incident was viewed in black and white. The process of a Judicial Hearing is quite efficient in making sure that the accused is made an example of by giving him little chance to understand and prepare for the hearing process. After the incident, a student is sent a report describing the events as they have been filed. The accused is then given one week to set a date for his hearing, or an automatic plea of "no contest" will be filed.

However, because of JAMS' poor efficiency, that letter usually arrives about four days later than it should, giving the accused little time to set a date that fits into the busy schedule of college life. When a date is finally set they may ask others who were present in the event to act as witnesses, and one staff member may act as an adviser and character witness but may not actually take any action in the proceedings. At the date of the hearing, the accused is instructed on how the proceedings work, which gives him a convenient twenty minutes to decide how he will present his case. Both parties are then brought into a board room and witnesses are called in one at a time. In a fine model of our country's own judicial system, the "prosecution" presents its case first.

In this case the RA was a witness and was represented by the Housing Department. Immediately one can see the injustice in terms of representation. When it comes time for the accused to present his case, he gives his side of the story and then brings in witnesses who can testify to the events as they saw them. Each member of the committee asks the witnesses questions as he sees fit. Since I served as a witness in this case I could tell by the questions asked that the arguments made by the "prosecution" were either taken out of context, exaggerated or completely false. Finally as the hearing is brought to a close, the accused is given one last opportunity to speak for himself.

According to the representative of the Housing Department, this was the highest possible offense that could occur, claiming that "RAs should be untouchable" and that the only reasonable punishment would be full expulsion. In the end, it was decided that suspension for the remainder of the semester would be the punishment for this fifth year student athlete who had never done anything wrong before and only had nine credits left until receiving his degree.

The unfairness of the JAMS process aside, the very concept that an RA should be "untouchable" sickens me. With cases like this constantly being decided in favor of the accuser, I worry that this power will be abused very easily by any RA who feels like exacting his absolute authority.

I call upon JAMS to reconsider the process of its hearings and reevaluate the ways in which it has lived up to its principles of "equity, fairness, and due process." If it does not, then JAMS must write a new mission statement that clearly outlines the truth behind judicial hearings and the process that it follows. Perhaps then it will start earning the respect and faith from the students that it needs to be taken seriously on this campus.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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