UJC hears from assistant dean of students in last meeting of semester

Andy Petters discusses the relationship between residence staff and UJC

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Kevin Warshaw asked Andy Petters to talk to members about how HRL decides to refer students for trial by the Judiciary Committee. 

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

The University Judiciary Committee held its last general body meeting of the semester Sunday night. Kevin Warshaw, a third-year Engineering student and newly elected UJC chair, asked Andy Petters, assistant dean of students at the University, to talk to members about how Housing and Residence Life decides to refer students for trial by the UJC. 

“I will say that I’m very grateful for this agency organization,” Petters said. “The peer-to-peer accountability is much more meaningful than if I were to design sanctions and determine what to do with a particular incident. Yes, students do tend to be scared and worried about what’s going to happen if they go through the UJC process, but sometimes that anxiety, that fear is actually more instilling a commitment towards not violating the standards of conduct again in the future.”

Petters said HRL mostly sees cases on roommate disputes, noise violations and underrage alcohol consumption in dorms. For these cases, HRL does not typically interact with the UJC unless they are multiple-time offenses.

“Residence staff will advise students … how they can best resolve those concerns independent of any additional outreach or support of other units here at the University,” Petters said.

For alcohol-related violations, the senior resident of a dorm association will first meet with the student involved for an educational conversation. A second-offense violation will typically result in a meeting with a member of the HRL staff, such as an area coordinator, assistant dean or program coordinator. HRL will make a referral to UJC for a Standard 6 violation — of policies concerning residences and the use of University facilities — if they feel that the student does not avoid the offense or acknowledge the violation.

Petters said HRL will immediately send a referral to UJC for drug-related cases, though he added that this is rare at the University.

“Marijuana tends to be something that students like to do in a communal way outside our residential buildings, but … our professional staff will follow up with individuals who have been arrested for drug activity and then we will send them to UJC for Standard 6,” Petters said.

Petters added that Housing and Residence Life typically does not see severe cases, such as Standard 1 violations, which include physical assault of any person on University-owned or leased property.

Typically, Petters said he notices that students who are referred to UJC are unaware of what the Committee is and what the process will be like. 

“Everyone knows Honor, and so if I were telling a student that if I was referring them to the Honor system, they would know what’s coming … but with UJC, it’s just they’re not as familiar in terms of what’s going to happen, what does this mean long-term for them,” Petters said.

Petter said he often has to explain to students that UJC is the student-run, central governing and operating body of the University’s judicial system that investigates alleged violations of the University’s Standards of Conduct. Students who are convicted of a violation can expect to have a student counselor assigned to them, and if the UJC decides to move forward with the case, the student will meet with a UJC investigator to document their side of the story. UJC will then decide the outcome, which will range from having no sanction to expulsion at the University.

“I tend to emphasize that UJC promotes educational outcomes for matters that a student remains at the University, so long that a student remains here, UJC wants that student to learn from what happened,” he said.

Petters said he believes the HRL, including resident advisors, take a proactive approach at the beginning of the semester to ensure students do not violate the Standards of Conduct. He added that HRL should not automatically refer students to a UJC trial if they commit an offense.

“A second offense alcohol situation shouldn’t be like, ‘Okay, they got to go to UJC,’” Petters said. “If they’re combated in a conversation with us and just don’t acknowledge their behavior, then I think that’s kind of [when] the professional staffs will use their discretion. Certainly I’d be open to some discussions with you all and with our student leadership to figure out what do we do in these situations, especially if you all felt that we are referring things to UJC that just didn’t warrant a full fledged trial or hearing.”

Petters emphasized to members of the UJC that he wants to work with them in the future to communicate their message to students, particularly those entering the University as first-year students. He said that, in the past, having a UJC representative at an introductory hall meeting explaining what the the Committee does has been successful. 

“We’d love to have more engagement between UJC and residence staff in our office to help get the word out of what UJC is all about,” Petters said. “I do think that Honor has an advantage cause it’s a real easy message … but for UJC it’s much harder to give an elevator speech.” 

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