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The reorganization of 1998

In the 1997-1998 academic year, the rules for JB and DB were completely rewritten. In part, this was due to students who had committed disciplinary code violations, such as violating dry week, self-reporting and then believing that the matter had come to an end. In addition, there were discrepancies between the rules found in the Student Handbook and the Faculty Handbook.

Over the course of the year, the rules were completely rewritten. In this process, the rules were written so that they reflected current practice, as well as clarifying the process for starting a trial by self-reporting. The Judiciary Board and Disciplinary Board were also brought closer together, to create a single board called the Honor Board. Members are now elected as Honor Board representatives, and when a case is heard, the appropriate chair selects from the Honor Board pool to create the appropriate hearing board. This was also the point at which the investigator system was initiated. Before a case is heard, two investigators are chosen from the Junior and Senior class; these investigators are in charge of presenting the evidence to the hearing board.

Sexual Harassment Grievance Board

In 1997, Leslie Baer became the Sexual Harassment Grievance Officer. At this time, the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board and Peer Counselors was created. This group was to be in charge of dealing with hearing cases relating to sexual harassment, and initiate activities meant to decrease incidence of sexual harassment at Harvey Mudd.

In the spring of 1998, a case was brought before the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board, which highlighted many problems in the judicial system. The case was brought to both the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board as well as the Judiciary Board. In order to prevent the defendants from being tried in separate courts, the Judiciary Board decided to let the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board hear the case.

Unfortunately, the rules for hearing Sexual Harassment cases were untested at this time. The main problem encountered by the Board was that in many places, it was possible for long delays to occur. For this reason, the trial took the majority of a semester to complete. Over the course of the next couple of years, the Sexual Harassment policies were revised to shorten the amount of time permitted to allow for quick trials.

The Appeals Board also had a problem with the way the case was handled. They attempted to override the JB Chair's decision that it wasn't under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Board (Meeting of the Appeals Board, October, 1998). This was swept under the rug by most of the parties involved, and was for the most part forgotten. It does highlight a potential problem with how the jurisdiction of cases are decided.

Changes considered by current Council

After the much publicized "napalm case" earlier this year (some students were accused of mixing a napalm-like substance on campus, and burning it behind one of the academic buildings), several students became concerned about the requirements of the student judicial system. The largest concern is that cases are closed by default and all information is kept confidential. This requirement is a bit problematic, since people not directly involved in the case don't know if it is an Honor Code violation to speak about what they know. In addition, it is unclear exactly what kind of information the administration should release in such an incident. Part of the reason the rumor mill got so out of control was that some members of the administration felt that there was a real danger to other students and campus property, yet the administration never sent a notice to the student body about these concerns. For these reasons, the committee formed this year is suggesting that cases be open by default, with the possibility to petition the board for a closed hearing.

Another change being discussed is a clarification of who chairs the board if one of the chairs is accused of a crime. In case this happens, the other chair will act as chair of the hearing board.

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