Central Student Judiciary
Embracing Student Self Governance
One of the most important things college can teach is accountability. By serving as a safe place for students to go out and make their own decisions, self guidance is fostered and independence is achieved.
In the same sense, students must learn to govern themselves effectively. There will not always be the administration to be a steadying hand creating and enforcing the rules - instead, internal accountability must be practiced and learned. The University's Central Student Government is an exercise in this.
As the Chief Justice of the Central Student Judiciary, I lead the highest body for student mediation on campus. In this role, I've embraced student self governance, and lobbied within the University's administration to grow the student role in creation and enforcement of campus policies.
Building Institutional Memory
A large failing of student government is, historically, the high turnover. Having been seated as a freshman and having assumed the Chief Justice role as a sophomore, however, my time on the Court will help to build institutional memory. To continue this trend, I have made an effort to recruit promising underclassmen to serve as Justices, so as to best promote institutional memory and develop a strong and skilled bench for the Court.
Resolving Meaningful Disputes
Issues which come before the Court are often of enormous consequence. One such case came in early 2020, when the election for LSA Student Body President was contested. One candidate violated campaigning rules, and committed enough violations that the statutory penalty would be disqualification from the race. The Elections Director, a political appointee of the previous administration, declined to assess that penalty, and offered poor justification for that choice. The question before the Court, then, was whether to overrule the decision of the Elections Director or to let the decision stand. The outcome of the election turned on our ruling.
This sort of case has implications not only for the students involved, but for the student body's trust in the fairness of the elections. The need to reach just outcomes and the need to maintain institutional legitimacy both weighed heavily in the minds of the Court as we deliberated. Ultimately, the Court managed to reach a decision I believe is just, to which I partially concurred and partially dissented (the opinion can be read on the left).
These sort of judgements are often difficult to reach even in abstract, requiring careful consideration and thorough analysis. With real stakes, they become yet more difficult. I am glad to be afforded the opportunity to participate in these decisions now; it has taught me the value of a care and thoroughness that is above reproach, treating every case with the same care you'd want if you were one of the parties.
What I've Learned
My involvement with the Central Student Judiciary has proven a formative experience in a number of ways. Far beyond merely honing the technical aspects of my jurisprudential skills, it has allowed me to better understand why law is structured in the way it is, and how it can be improved to better serve the original intents of its creators. It has also taught me the necessity of remaining above reproach in order to maintain institutional legitimacy, and has helped me understand the considerations judges make when deciding the cases that come before them. Most of all, it has instilled in me a deep respect for our system of laws and the people who serve it; the care with which they carry out their duties is something worthy of praise.