This year, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board endorses five candidates running for College of Arts and Sciences representative for the University Judiciary Committee — second-year Lisa Kopelnik, third-year Ineke La Fleur, first-year Allison McVey, third-year Ronith Ranjan and second-year Melinda Wong. Each of these individuals demonstrates dedication to improving UJC, a strong platform that prioritizes the safety and well-being of students on Grounds and the desire to maintain the UJC’s commitment to education and rehabilitation.
Current Vice Chair for Sanctions Kopelnick is tasked with ensuring the UJC’s sanctions are fair and proportional. During her tenure, she recognized that the UJC is not representative of the larger University community and specifically wants to work to address the current socioeconomic and diversity gaps that are present. Kopelnik also feels strongly about ensuring students believe in the system that the UJC has to offer. This involves increasing transparency, prioritizing rehabilitation over punitive measures and making students’ rights known to them so they can present their best case. Kopelnik acknowledges the UJC is constantly trying to navigate how to balance the University community’s need for transparency with the accused student’s need for confidentiality. She likes the approach they have been utilizing in which facts of organizational cases, along with their sanctions, are released without personal commentary. Kopelnik is also a strong advocate for the UJC’s cooperation with other branches of student self-governance and feels they can work together to proactively fix a variety of issues facing the student body — we agree, and will be holding her to her promises.
La Fleur, senior investigator on the Executive Committee, has served as a UJC investigator for three years now. This role has informed the work she intends to do if elected to serve the UJC as a representative. Her plan centers around the ideals of increasing community engagement, restorative justice and transparency. Community engagement is a strong value of hers, as she has significant experience directly interacting with students through her current executive position. One idea she presented for accomplishing this goal was increasing targeted community outreach and collecting feedback from students so they know their voices are heard. She feels as though trust is a foundational key to establishing a relationship between the UJC and the student body. La Fleur would like to reform some aspects of the UJC’s recruitment as well, by providing more clarity in regards to the admissions process and increasing outreach to multicultural organizations on Grounds — these are admirable goals, and we want to see her stick to them.
McVey, chair of the First-Year Judiciary Committee, will bring a unique perspective to the pool of representatives. Her work on the UJC is underpinned by her desire to ensure that all students are treated with certain dignity. She aspires to create a sanctioning system that is not only rehabilitative but also avoids making students feel guilt or shame. She sees the UJC as a system that promotes good behaviors and a safe environment, as opposed to one that dominates and punishes others — something she believes to be a common misconception. She wants to rectify this misconception by increasing access to information about what the UJC sanctions consist of and how frequently specific sanctions are used. She also wants to ensure the mental well-being of both students and judges a part of the UJC by cutting down case processing times.
Ranjan holds three years of experience within the UJC, presently serving as a counselor. He feels that the UJC’s values and missions strongly align with his own, working to create a community of safety, respect and freedom. His two-fold plan for the betterment of the UJC is both a substantial and practical approach — he intends to start the ambitious conversation of re-evaluating the standards of conduct to ensure they meet students’ needs in addition to making the UJC more demographically representative. Ranjan understands the gravity of hazing, as he serves as a resident advisor and is familiar with the perspective of first-year students who are pledging. He is confident in the UJC’s ability to address the issue of hazing by finding ways to leverage the unique student perspective that the University administration lacks. Ranjan’s plan is certainly ambitious, and we want to see him deliver on his promises.
Wong, senior data manager on the Executive Committee, is responsible for managing the budget, collecting reports on demographics and observing case statistics. Wong’s experience on the UJC has allowed her to witness how the UJC interacts with the student body, as well as give her insight into areas in which the organization can improve. Wong believes one of the biggest challenges the UJC is facing is its visibility on and around Grounds. Wong proposed two solutions to help combat this issue — the first was returning to the practice of providing first- years with the UJC’s presentations within their dorms and the second was creating a module for incoming students to complete, similar to the one already deployed about the Honor Committee. Wong’s ideas for sanctioning were primarily educational, as she believes education is at the center of the UJC’s mission and is more effective at preventing future wrongdoings.
The Editorial Board is confident in each of these candidates’ ability to help the UJC promote safety, respect and freedom on Grounds. Given their experience, dedication and values, we firmly believe they will make the UJC more diverse, accountable and restorative.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associates and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.