The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 30th

Students Defend, Decry Criticism of Honor Court Hearing Procedures


The job of the student attorney general is to investigate alleged violations of the Instrument for Student Judicial Governance, to decide whether or not her findings merit a charge and to prosecute those charges, not to be the model of neutrality, as Brandon Briscoe stated in his Oct. 2 column.

Despite Taylor Lea's prosecutorial role, the AG staff has eight associate attorneys general, myself included, whose primary job is to advocate for accused students. Mr. Briscoe and the editorial entourage at The Daily Tar Heel either ignored or failed to read sections IV and V or the Instrument for Student Judicial Governance, which clearly outline the roles of various members of the AG staff as advocates either for the University or for accused students.

As for the accusation that the way in which we have tried students in groups is unfair, we have an Honor Court of 48 members and nearly half that number of cases from one class.

You do the math.

There is no way that each defendant could have received a fresh court and speedy trial unless they were tried in groups.

The fact that we are a student-run court as opposed to a court composed of faculty members did not worsen the situation. If the court were composed entirely of faculty, we still would have had 48 court members and half as many cases.

Defendants in criminal cases wait months for their trials because of a shortage of manpower, the same way that students wait here. Unfortunately, this waiting is just another one of the unpleasant realities involved in being a defendant, in the state of North Carolina or in our University. We cannot ignore an alleged violation of the code simply because too many people have been accused. How could we justify dismissing one accusation but not another simply because one was reported after the other?

To our abundant critics: If you care so much about the future of student governance at our University, why did only 52 people apply for positions on our staff? Why do we have stacks upon stacks of unread copies of the Instrument just lurking around our office?

Please, before you start criticizing our policies, read the Instrument or come to a meeting of the Committee On Student Conduct (all of their meetings are open to the public).

We cannot effectively address your questions or concerns if your criticism stems from misinformation or a total lack of information. If you are willing to make the effort to vociferously criticize the AG staff, please take the effort to understand how our office works before you do so.

Valerie Alter

Managing Associate

Student Attorney General's Staff

The length rule was waived.


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