Editorial: What Students Need Is a Top Cop With a Heart

As Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson mulls his pick for the next Student Policies and Judicial Affairs director, students should realize that few administrative appointments affect undergraduates as much as this one.

Last fall’s retirement of Nicholas S. Aguilar, the curmudgeonly former SPJA head, provides Watson and other administrators a much-needed chance to turn a page on the contentious relationship between students and university bureaucrats. Hopefully, it’s an opportunity the vice chancellor will take.

Before his retirement, Aguilar had earned a reputation as a university-hired gun. In most contentious cases, including hearings over the publication of the Koala, Aguilar’s motivations provided as much fuel for debate as the charges he brought; he did not command trust or respect. His tendency to paint issues as starkly black and white did not help.

His temporary replacement, former Student Legal Services Director Anthony Valladolid, has provided a welcome antidote in recent months. A former defense attorney, Valladolid has displayed a concern for students previously absent in the SPJA office, and has made clear that his overarching goal is to achieve basic fairness.

While this board has not met all of the applicants for the post, and thus cannot make an endorsement, we hope Watson’s pick will share these qualities.

In coming years, the SPJA director will consider many important changes to the student conduct code; it’s important that the person filling the slot genuinely cares about students.