Mertes plans to increase efforts

By Jami Peterson

As student Regent James Mertes stirs up concern about the student judicial system, officials still are waiting for complaints to flow through their channels.

Mertes, who made his concerns apparent in his report to the Student Association senate, said he plans to increase efforts in solving problems with investigational and hearing procedures in the student judicial system which “have been occurring for some time.”

Some concerns Mertes raised were with the “ambiguous” definition of harassment, the term “substantial weight of evidence” in the judicial code, the restitution requirements and student hearing procedures and investigations.

Legal Counsel George Shur said although he “is not in the position to stand in the way” of requested changes, he does not feel the judicial system is in for a rude awakening.

“I’m absoulutely comfortable with the present legality of our judicial system,” he said.

Shur said the judicial system at NIU has been challenged in court cases a number of times in the past, but always came through with flying colors.

“It’s not up to me whether the present situation (of the judicial system) is good or bad,” he said. “I make sure it is legal.”

Shur said getting changes made with the student judicial system is up to the University Council, who determines “what role to take.”

J. Carroll Moody, executive secretary of the UC, said he first heard of Mertes’s concerns with the judicial system through an article in The Northern Star last Friday.

“I have had no direct approach from anyone about that (judicial system problems),” he said.

Although changing the judicial system was suggested last year, the present concerns are news to him, Moody said.

Moody, however, said, “I can’t say there have not been members of the University Council or faculty senate who haven’t raised questions some time about certain provisions in the judicial code.”

The current system allows any organization to initiate changes which then flow through the UC to the president, who determines whether suggestions are passed.

In the past, officials argued about the definition of the word “through,” Moody said. It was recently determined the UC would have “jurisdiction over all changes.”

After suggestions to the UC from the judiciary advisory board, the policy states the UC deal with all cases of academic misconduct, while cases of an “editorial nature” go directly to the executive secretary to be delivered to the president, he said.

“There is a lot of responsibility put on the executive secretary,” Moody said.