Student liberty must be protected at all levels

    The administration is tightening the noose and going for the jugular. Nick Aguilar, director of Student Policies and Judicial Affairs, has targeted for elimination a student’s right to have nonattorney advocates at disciplinary hearings. Aguilar’s reasoning for eliminating this important right is flawed. He claims that advocates were “”raising the level of the hearing process … to [a] much more formal and legalistic environment.””

    In a formal academic misconduct hearing, where students’ educational futures are at stake, it is crucial that they be allowed someone to represent them. In many cases, students in hearings face off against veterans of the student judicial system ‹ such as resident deans or resident security officers ‹ or even professors and faculty with law degrees. If students are being prosecuted by a lawyer, it stands to reason that they should be defended by one as well.

    Aguilar’s policy would force students to represent themselves and speak on their own behalf. Shy students would suffer if they were forced to speak in front of a judicial board. Students for whom English is their second language may find it difficult to convince an English-speaking judicial board of their innocence if they cannot adequately speak the language.

    Aguilar’s recommendation is not only bad policy, but also discriminatory. Eliminating advocates does not serve the students, but it does serve administrators seeking to limit student liberty liberties. For the sake of the students, the conduct code must not be changed and students must continue to have the right to representation.

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