A committee that evaluates academic and behavioral infractions has been excluding student representatives from conduct hearings.
The Student Conduct Committee handles violations of the student conduct code. If a student decides to contest that they did not violate the conduct code, they can go through a hearing process and the committee votes on whether the student violated the code.
The code states that the panel at the hearing should be comprised equally of students, faculty and staff, but some student members said they think students have not been as equally represented on the committee’s hearings.
The Graduate Students Association and Undergraduate Students Association Council have a total of six appointees to the Student Conduct Committee.
Brian Kohaya, the USAC presidential appointment director who appoints students to campus committees, said he received an email during week four from an alumnus whose friend had an SCC hearing Friday. Kohaya said the alumnus was concerned because he learned student representatives were not invited to serve on the panel.
“We were under assumption that whoever was appointed (would be) called for student conduct cases, and we found out that wasn’t the case,” Kohaya said.
GSA President Michael Skiles said he then emailed all three appointees, and the students told him they had never gone through training, which is required before appearing at hearings.
Skiles said that in a meeting with Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi, Blandizzi estimated there were about 10 to 15 conduct committee hearings during fall without any student representation. However, UCLA spokesperson Rebecca Kendall said Blandizzi did not provide any figures at the meeting.
“Student Affairs has just been having these hearings … without any student representation on this committee, which is the right of every student on (the student conduct committee),” Skiles said.
Calvin Leung, a current SCC appointee and graduate student in molecular biology, said he has not heard from the dean of students’ office about his duties since his appointment last spring.
“After I was appointed, I didn’t hear anything from them ever since,” Leung said. “I had no idea whether I’m still part of (SCC) or if there’s any training session or paperwork to do.”
Nick Uhm, a former SCC appointee, said he has never been trained and has never served on any cases, because he was never invited to one.
Uhm said he could not attend the first training because of a conflict with one of his classes, and when he emailed the person in charge of training to reschedule, he received no response.
USAC President Danny Siegel, Skiles and Kohaya said they began trying to contact administration about this issue and received a response from the Dean of Students office after one week.
“I understand your concern – you have appointed students to a committee and these students have not (yet) been included in the process,” Blandizzi said in the email.
The Dean of Students office also emailed conduct committee appointees to schedule training sessions, and said students will start to be included in hearings after they finish training. The students have to show they do not have a conflict of interest in the hearings.
Blandizzi offered to meet individually with each of the appointees to discuss their concerns further.
Blandizzi said Student Affairs did not offer training for student appointees in the fall because the committee wanted to address privacy concerns and reconsider student representatives’ role in hearings. The office also wanted to implement a new policy for group misconduct, as opposed to individual student misconduct. However, the process took longer than expected.
Skiles said he does not agree that there is a privacy problem.
“(The admin) should let the accused students choose whether they wanted to have their peers sitting on the committee or not,” he said. “Just as the accused in our justice system can choose between a bench trial and jury trial.”
However, Skiles added Blandizzi told him the code does not necessarily require student representation, and that no student in prior hearings has expressed any concern about not having student representatives present.
Skiles said he thinks including student representatives in hearings is necessary to ensure the administration treats students fairly.
“If the committee hearing … is just full of administrators, you would expect the committee to be more likely to side with administration,” Skiles said. “But if you had on that committee several students, I think they would be more likely to sympathize with students if they thought the admin was effectively exercising an abusive power.”