Though the proposed judicial charter released yesterday responds to some criticism aimed at previous drafts, students and faculty said major problems still plague the system. History Professor Alan Kors said the new charter's largest failings lie in provisions that prevent anyone associated with judicial proceedings from speaking publicly about them. Kors has been a vocal critic of the University's judicial process since the 1993 "Water Buffalo" incident, when he advised then-College freshman Eden Jacobowitz. Jacobowitz was accused of violating provisions of the University's speech code that prohibit racist speech. "No member of the University community? may disclose confidential disciplinary matters," section III.F.2 of the charter reads. But the paragraph also deems all testimony, files and findings from hearings to be confidential. Anyone who violates that confidentiality could be disciplined by the University, according to the charter. Kors called the section "the most serious breach of fundamental freedom and decency that I have seen in all my 28 years at the University," and volunteered to be the first test case of its prohibitions. He said the charter proposal aims to prevent any denunciation of possible abuse of power or authority in judicial hearings. "How dare the University believe that it may draw a shadow of night around itself and not be subjected to the scrutiny of public opinion?" he asked. "This is disgraceful. They are not the Inquisition." But Provost Stanley Chodorow said the University has a legal obligation to students involved in the system to protect the confidentiality of disciplinary matters. Other areas of the new proposal incorporated some student suggestions into the text, making it more satisfactory to groups like the First Amendment Task Force, which seeks to ensure student free speech rights. The charter would reduce the power of the provost within the system -- a major point of contention over previous proposals. The provost would no longer have the ability to dismiss or replace judicial system officials without consulting the Faculty Senate. Also, the Disciplinary Hearing Officer -- who would administer the system -- would be a tenured faculty member. But the final decision on sanctions for students found guilty of violations of the University's Code of Student Conduct would still rest with the provost. Hearing panels -- composed of three students and two faculty members in disciplinary cases -- would make non-binding recommendations. The new draft would also allow students charged under the system greater freedom to consult with an advisor. Previous drafts had specifically barred non-University-affiliated attorneys from serving as student advisors. The new proposal clears the way for off-campus attorneys to advise students who are facing or will soon face legal proceedings -- but only those students. Last semester, critics of the first proposal said student respondents should be able to allow their advisors to question witnesses -- in effect acting as the students' advocates -- at their own discretion. Yesterday's proposal would allow advisors to speak in hearings, but only under "extraordinary circumstances." It would give the DHO the power to decide what circumstances constitute "extraordinary cases." University Council will discuss the charter proposal at its meeting next Wednesday. Chodorow said last night that he does not expect anyone to raise new complaints about the draft at Council. The charter must be approved by all four undergraduate schools before it takes effect.Comments powered by Disqus
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