Criticisms need solutions

NIU student Regent James Mertes is stepping into the ring against the Student Judicial Office, but perhaps he should consider going back to his corner to discuss strategy.

As so often is the case, a student leader has raised what he considers a serious complaint about NIU without proposing any viable alternatives.

Mertes has attacked the student judicial code for abuses of due process. These include the problems of inexperienced student advocates, the admission of hearsay evidence and the fact that the prosecutors, called “presenters,” work in the same office as the person who determines punishment.

However, Mertes, a former student advocate in the judicial hearings, has long complained about the codes without ever explaining how they can be altered.

The hearing officer does not determine guilt or innocence, so this really does not represent a conflict of interest.

Yes, a person from the same office as the prosecutor—Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles—does mete out the punishment, but isn’t that the purpose of the judicial office?

The judicial code could stand further scrutiny. However, it is similar to codes found at other schools. And due to tight financial times downstate, creating a separate office for the presenters is not feasible right now.

It would certainly be refreshing, as well as lending credence to his argument, if Mertes had a game plan before trying to have another boxing match.