RJC needs real reform, not a hasty makeover

February 24, 2011

When the Residential Judicial Council disbanded in October 2010 in order to reorganize, there was hope that with time to reflect on its shortcomings, the RJC would return ready to be an important voice for students in Georgetown’s opaque disciplinary process. Unfortunately, the proposed reforms announced Feb. 16 do little to address the fundamental issues that have plagued the RJC in the past.

Formed during the 1999-2000 academic year, the RJC was supposed to give students the opportunity to have alleged Category A violations of the Code of Student Conduct be heard by their peers. But the board’s power was significantly curtailed by the fact that only hall directors—not accused students—had the ability to submit cases to the RJC. Hall Directors were reluctant to do so, and as a result, the RJC saw very few cases.

The proposed reforms do nothing to address this problem. While the RJC restructuring committee deserves praise for attempting to legitimize the RJC by holding elections for its members and setting regular meeting times, their changes do not go nearly far enough. Students deserve the right to have their disciplinary cases adjudicated by a board of their peers—and that right should not be contingent upon the whims of their hall director.

When asked at a town hall why they failed to tackle this issue, the RJC restructuring committee argued that such a reform would require changing the Code of Conduct itself. While that would be a serious endeavor, suspending the RJC for an entire academic year was itself a drastic move. Students were right to expect more when the RJC returned from months of suspension.

All students accused of a Category A violations should be able to apply to have their case heard by the RJC. Hall directors should be required to notify students of this right when they cite students for a violation. Right now, too few students know about the RJC and the appeals process. The RJC’s jurisdiction should also be extended to cover students living off-campus, where disciplinary decisions often seem to be made based on town-gown concerns rather than the facts of individual cases.

Giving the RJC the year off was a great opportunity to make substantive changes to how students are represented in Georgetown’s disciplinary system. But by limiting its focus and making only cosmetic changes, the RJC restructuring committee squandered that chance. If Georgetown wants to transform the RJC so it is no longer a useless body, it needs to take the time to make the council a real source of equity in the student discipline process.

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The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead. The Board strives to publish critical analyses of events at both Georgetown and in the wider D.C. community. We welcome everyone from all backgrounds and experience levels to join us!


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ResLife is the Tokyo Trials all over again.

Mary Punchak

wouldn’t say ‘squandered.’ you can’t expect complete transformation of a judicial system overnight, especially with massive bureaucratic red-tape. but you gotta start somewhere…so why not elections?