But Lake said that when schools are successful in training their student judges, the disciplinary process often becomes more credible.
Michael R. Schneider, a Boston lawyer who has consulted with students facing the Ad Board, agreed. “It adds a more democratic component to the process, being judged by a jury of your peers who are a little less removed,” he said.
Matthew L. Sundquist ’09, a former UC president who was the only student on the reform committee, acknowledged the challenges inherent in adding student judges but stood by the proposal. “I think it’s tricky, complicated, and I think it would be would hard, but I think it would be extraordinarily valuable,” he said.
Stephen Bryan, an associate dean who runs the Student Conduct Office at Duke University, said that students chosen to serve on Duke’s undergraduate disciplinary board are vetted to check that they are mature enough to deliberate on serious cases.
At Duke, a student must be a junior or senior to sit on the board. And the rigorous application process is competitive each year—typically, about 150 students complete multiple essays, interviews, and oral exercises in the hope of claiming one of the 12 to 14 student positions on the board.
Bryan said the system has been successful. In his 13 years at Duke, he said, just one student has been asked to resign from the Board for leaking confidential information.
PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN
Even after codifying a standard of evidence as part of the reforms, the Ad Board continues to face criticism that it lacks transparency about its proceedings and outcomes.
Critics point to the long-delayed database of Ad Board case summaries, which College administrators initially said they planned to release by the end of 2010. In February 2011, the management fellow in charge of compiling the database predicted that it would be released by the end of that academic year, and in April 2012, Ellison said he expected the first part of the database in a month. But that database has yet to be seen, and there is no new timeframe for its release.
Some say that by finding a place for students in its process, the Ad Board could help reverse its reputation for opacity.
“It would be a tremendous thing,” said attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, a Harvard Law School alumnus who has repeatedly published writings criticizing the Ad Board. “It would go a long way toward straightening out the system and making it more transparent.”
Bryan said that at Duke, student representation has been essential in increasing the clarity of the process for fellow students.
“It certainly demystifies the process by having students on the panel who can talk informally with their peers,” Bryan said. “I have this sense that at Harvard there’s this aura about the Admin Board—no one really knows about it.”
Experts say that student representation in Harvard’s disciplinary process would not only increase the Board’s transparency but would also help foster integrity at Harvard.
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