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The Basics of Disciplinary Action at Scripps

Niva Laurent ’24
Staff Writer

Most students see a warning from their RA as the extent of disciplinary action on campus, but Scripps College and the other 5Cs have an official process for more serious rule violations on campus. As an overlooked system, the judicial hearing process at Scripps oversees a variety of cases related to student conduct.

TSV has examined the “Scripps College Guide to Student Life” (GSTL) to understand how judicial hearings occur at Scripps College, and how Scripps’ rules differ from the other 5Cs. The process at Scripps allows a judicial board of faculty and students to make final decisions, creating sizable room for students to influence the handling of their case.

What can result in disciplinary action?

Most significantly, violating California or federal law can result in disciplinary action (if not handled by outside court systems). There are also over thirty pages in the GSTL outlining campus activities that can result in judicial hearings, including: disrupting quiet hours, obstructing the halls, and losing or damaging property. However, it is unlikely such actions would actually require the need for judicial intervention, as there are multiple opportunities for college administrators or RAs to give out warnings or fines. Instead, more serious cases that involve sexual harassment, hazing, or nonpeaceful demonstrating are more likely to undergo the full judicial hearing process.

For the rare cases that make it to the judicial hearing stage, students influencing the final decision of punishment is possible. Some student violations require administrative review, but in other cases, students may voluntarily choose to have their case investigated by either administrative review by the Associate Dean of Students (ADOS) or the Judicial Board.

From the onset of a judicial hearing, accused students have the ability to choose any advisor, who is a member of the Claremont Colleges community. An advisor is not considered legal representation, since they cannot speak on the behalf of the accused during a hearing. However, an advisor provides guidance and support throughout the hearing process, which is vital when navigating judicial procedure. Accused students also have the option to even skip their own hearing (although it is not recommended, particularly in light of a potential appeal).

Does the process of judicial hearings differ across the 5C’s?

At Scripps, the judicial board hears all student-related cases at Scripps and is comprised of seven voting members. This includes two faculty members, two higher-level staff members, and three students, who are all appointed. At each of the 5Cs, the judicial board assesses each case and decides consequences for the student. Potential consequences include suspension, expulsion, revocation of degree, disciplinary probation, a warning, restitution, organizational sanctions, community service, prohibition of leadership activities, etc.

Compared to the other 5Cs, Scripps and Claremont McKenna have limited student representation. At Pitzer College, all five of the student voting positions in the judicial hearing process are elected. This is similar to Harvey Mudd, which has student representation from all class years. Pomona College draws the most student representation, as the campus judicial hearing process is entirely student-run. According to Dolly Ni PO ’21, current chair of the Pomona College judicial council, only two deans are present during hearings, in addition to a graduate assistant who aids in recordkeeping and administrative procedure.

While these structural differences are known, a commonality between the judicial hearing process at the Claremont Colleges is the lack of data statistics available. While other institutions publish information and reports connected to disciplinary action, Scripps only publishes offenses related to drug abuse, illegal weapons, and liquor law violations in the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

According to ADOS Adriana Di Bartolo, the reasoning for the lack of transparency is in respect to FERPA laws overseeing student privacy.

“Scripps strives to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all students involved in a conduct matter. Scripps has had no judicial board hearings during the time frame [from 2016 to 2020]. Given the small size of the college and the very low number of conduct matters, Scripps does not publish anonymous data. Because we are a small and tight knit institution, we could risk students being identified with sharing even minimal information,” Dean Bartolo said.

Since all the Claremont Colleges are small in size, it is unlikely reports will ever be released concerning student judicial hearings.

Image Source: Niva Laurent ’24

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