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USG considers student representation before Honor Committee

While approving members of the Honor Committee and Committee on Discipline, the Senate debated some of these groups’ practices in its final meeting of the year on Sunday night.

Under current protocol, members of the Honor Committee contact students to meet with the committee but do not inform students of whether they are being called in because they are suspects or witnesses.

U-Council chair Elan Kugelmass ’14 raised the idea that students should be informed of their position as soon as possible in order to ensure their rights are protected.

“When we’re trying to build a system on trust … it doesn’t make sense that we would treat all students with some kind of impression that they’re not going to tell us the truth if we don’t give them the time to think of what to say,” he said.

Honor Committee chair Luchi Mmegwa ’14 responded to Kugelmass’ claim saying when a student is called in, the student is able to call in a representative at any point during the meeting and, in some situations, the committee members themselves do not know if the student called forth is a suspect or a witness.

U-Councilor Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15 noted that when this is the case, it creates a gray area for students who neither fit the description of a witness or a suspect.

Although some members of the senate described this “gray area” as troubling with regard to ensuring the student’s right to representation, Mmegwa said, “With regards to gray area, what I was meaning to say was that we never have a situation where we are calling someone who may be a suspect, but not treating them with their rights.”

He added that when students are called into the office, the student is able to decide which course of action to take before proceeding with the investigation and case.

“Students who come before the Honor Committee, even in investigatory phase, should be informed of status and rights and should not be left wondering if there were charges brought against them,” Kugelmass said.

According to Kugelmass, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Victoria Jueds, who serves as secretary of the Committee on Discipline, said that she didn’t think it was necessary for students to have representation during the first meeting.

Kugelmass asked the six nominees for the Honor Committee whether they “support all efforts to quickly inform all students whether they are suspects or witnesses.”

He proceeded to ask the same question to the five nominees for the Committee on Discipline.

All nominees agreed and were approved for their positions.

The Senate also elected two new Council of the Princeton University Community executive committee representatives — U-Councilors Danny Johnson ’15 and Okuda-Lim. One of the two will later be given the title of U-Council chair.

Class of 2015 senator Nihar Madhavan announced during the meeting that there will now be Halal Nights in dining halls, in which main dinner entrees will be served with a halal meat option.

According to Madhavan, Dining Services was “surprised” at how simple and inexpensive providing halal options to the community would be.

Ella Cheng ’16, chair of the Undergraduate Student Life Committee, updated the Senate on possible changes to University ID card use and access in the future.

One idea brought up was giving residential college advisers, residential graduate students and dorm assistants PUID access to every room that they supervise, making it easier to help students who get locked out.

Cheng also brought up the issue of padlocks, which are only used on women’s bathrooms. In the future, students may be surveyed to see how they feel about this, so the University can decide whether it will be best to proceed with no padlocks for any bathrooms or padlocks for both.

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