BY BRYNN BOYER
Elections will be held next week to replace the vacancies on the Judicial Review Board, which lost just over a quarter of its members in the past semester. Out of 22 total board members, six have resigned, which Judicial Review Board President Nick Perilla says is a little more than the typical change from semester to semester.
Dr. Raymond Tuttle, director of judicial affairs and community responsibility, explained that reasons for student resignations can vary. Some members study abroad, others may transfer to another institution and others may leave the board for personal reasons.
“This is not something incredibly unusual,” Perilla said. “Mid-year elections happen pretty often.”
The Board has been using current members to “fill the gap” until new members are brought in through the elections next week, according to Dean of Students and Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Cedric Rucker.
“Fortunately, we have students who are interested in stepping up to take the positions,” he said.
Students will vote starting next Monday to fill one freshman, two sophomore, one junior and two senior spots on the Board. Voting for Board candidates will be done through email on the same ballot as the proposed Honor Constitution changes and the candidates running for a vacancy on the Honor Council.
Voting will continue through February 11, and results will be announced that night.
Those elected will be expected to attend the weekly Board meetings, as well as sitting for hearings every other week. In addition to keeping sanctions up to date and scheduling hearings, members help with outreach programs such as Friday Night Dry.
“So far, we’re planning to continue with ‘business as usual,’” Perilla stated. “Our main concern is that we run the board in a fair way.”
The Judicial Review Board should act as a mediator, negotiating between the students and the University. The Board’s main function, according to the 2008-2009 Student Handbook, is to “enforce student responsibility.” The Board exists to make sure that students follow school policies, and that the rights and responsibilities of accused students are maintained.
The Judicial Review Board is one entity under the umbrella of the University Judicial System which also includes the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility, the Dean of Student Life and Residence Life staff.
The handbook lists several cases that can be handled by the Board, including underage possession or consumption of alcohol, property damage and fire safety violations. Accused students who choose to go through the Board rather than an administrator attend a hearing of their peers and, if found responsible, receive sanctions.
Tuttle emphasized the unique nature of Mary Washington’s peer-led judicial system.
“Many schools do not give students an opportunity to be heard by their peers in this manner,” he said.
Since the Board can play an important role in students’ lives, Tuttle encouraged students to participate by running for a position in the future and also by voting in the upcoming election.
“It’s about peers taking responsibility for peers,” Rucker explained. “I take pride in watching students actualize their abilities as leaders [through organizations like the Board].”