Staff Editorial: J-Board: Beholden to the Unknown

At Lawrence, there are two main judicial systems governing student life: Honor Council, which deals with violations of the university’s academic Honor Code; and Judicial Board, (J-Board) handling breaches of the Social Code. Both honor council and J-Board are required to maintain a degree of secrecy to protect students’ privacy; however, a degree of transparency is also necessary. At present, J-Board is not fulfilling its responsibility of informing campus of its actions. The legislation governing J-Board requires that case results—with the identities of the involved parties redacted—be published every term, but in recent years J-Board has failed to make this information available.

Lawrence’s Judicial Board is a standing committee of LUCC, and is responsible for the adjudication of violations of the Social Code. The student handbook contains more information about the composition, procedures, jurisdiction and abilities of J-Board.

At the conclusion of a J-Board hearing, the board drafts a written statement to the accused party. In the statement, the board outlines whether a breach of the Social Code has occurred, and what sanctions, if any, are given by the board. This statement is delivered to the involved parties at the conclusion of each case.

LUCC legislation requires that at the end of every academic term, J-Board must submit the written statements of any hearings that have occurred to The Lawrentian for publication. This is meant to balance the secrecy publication of the board’s activities, and ensures that the campus community is made aware of the actions of its judiciary system. Publication of J-Board’s records ensures that the board is held accountable to the campus which it serves.

Many students on campus are unaware of J-Board’s activities and purpose, and the current public relations practices of the board do not provide adequate information. Many J-Board posters with slogans such as “J-Board: We’re Not Honor Council” are posted around campus, but addressing confusion relating to student-run judicial bodies on campus does not inform students of their inner workings. This presents a situation in which students who are aware of possible violations of the Social Code may not know what resources to use to address them.

J-Board has failed to submit hearing information to The Lawrentian for the past two years. J-Board is not acting in a transparent manner, and thus is not holding itself accountable to campus. This is a disturbing breach in protocol, limiting community vision into a judicial body with power over the entire Lawrence community, which in turn hampers its usefulness to the very students it could help.