The core functions of the Judicial Branch of Associated Students of the University of Redlands (ASUR) are to make edits to the ASUR constitution, club and organizational constitutional edits and judicial hearings. It is the smallest branch of the student government with nine members, including the Judicial Chair. This year, however, there are only seven members. The Judicial Council meets bimonthly at 7 p.m.
Senior, Donald Hall, known across campus as Donny, serves as the Judicial Chair for the 2017-2018 academic year. Hall said he was motivated to apply for the position because he is “a total nerd for contracting and constitutional analysis.” He has been on the Council since his freshman year, so moving into the Judicial Chair position during his junior year felt like a natural next step given his experience. He has now held the position for two years.
Both Hall and sophomore Judicial Council member Drew Garbe, described upholding transparency within their office by maintaining office hours twice a week and having quick response times to emails. Hall said that he spends anywhere between three to ten hours in SLIC per week. However, Hall does not maintain a record of his counsel’s office hours and who attends them. It has proved difficult for the Redlands Bulldog to identify the members of the council since their positions are not listed on URconnect or anywhere publicly on campus. Many members were unresponsive to emails as well.
Garbe explained that he has office hours twice a week from 4 to 5 p.m. to remain transparent, but a student has never come to him with questions.
In regards to student body knowledge of ASUR functions, Hall feels that the Judicial Council is successful in remaining transparent.
“[However] not many people see it since we concern ourselves with club constitutions,” Hall said.
The student body may not be aware of what duties Judicial Council performs, as they largely deal with constitutional edits for ASUR and campus organizations. Their communication is typically limited to organizational leaders. In turn, they quietly affect those involved within these organizations and the larger university, as they authorize how organizations may operate. As a consequence, Hall and Garbe do not think many students are aware of who the Judicial Council is and what it is they do.
“Those who have dealings with judicial council [are aware of us], but for the most part I don’t think [students] do. If they do know we are here, they are confused about what we do. That is something we are working on defining and explaining,” Hall said. “to be honest, students don’t know [what the judicial branch does]. It means they haven’t needed to see us for the process of peer review through the judicial council, which is nice. But this is also problematic because it is a branch of the student government.”
In response to the same question regarding the student body’s awareness of the Judicial Council, Garbe said, “No, I am not sure if a lot of the student body is aware of ASUR. I will mention we have a constitution [to people,] and they are confused on what that means or didn’t know it existed.”
Judicial council meetings are open to the student body, but hearings are private to retain confidentiality.
The ASUR constitution mandates in Article IV, Section 2, d. that any constitutional edits are to be completed by the Judicial Chair.
“…Every fourth year following the Fall 2013 / Spring 2014 academic year, the Judicial Chair shall fulfill the responsibilities entailed in a Constitutional Revision Year as outlined in Article IX,” the constitution states.
The goal of constitutional edits is to clarify the document, while making it more fair and accessible. The ASUR constitution is a living document that is modified to the current realities of the student body.
“We are speaking [this year] about the openness and fairness within [the] election system and in general in ASUR…” Hall said. “I have my councillors looking through the constitution for problems … There are a lot of changes that need to be made, but [we are] finding the important ones that need to be revised right away.”
Both Hall and Garbe were hesitant to share details of constitutional edits underway, explaining that they will be more public next semester as they are passed. Hall shared details of a few edits. First, he explained there will be an edit to remove the deposit required to run for ASUR President to ensure the election process is attainable for all students. The other edit regards that the Judicial Council has seven total members.
“This was due to the fact that Judicial Council does not need 9 members for what we do,” Hall said. “Even with expanding our role, we are more than capable of doing our job with seven members.”
Regarding the Judicial Chair’s responsibilities, Article IV, Section 2, c. of the constitution states:
“Allowing a suspension of the Constitution in order to allow an unconstitutional process to be expedited, upon request of the ASUR President, the Senate Chair, the Executive Director(s) of Clubs and Organizations, or the Director of Leadership and Involvement. The reason for a suspension must be explained to the ASUR President, the Director of Leadership and Involvement, and the requester by the Judicial Chair,” the constitution states.
Hall stated that he has seen a few constitutional suspensions and gave a particular example. He hinted at another constitutional edit regarding tabling around campus.
“The important thing is that we are looking to change the tabling process, it is ineffective way of discussion, so I have been in talks about changing that part of the constitution,” Hall said. “[Since] I’ve been here that’s been the constitutional suspension process. I can’t speak to the other councillors. Its an interesting clause, but from what I have seen it is about inefficient mechanics, if not suspended its going to be pushed further away.”
However, no examples of more serious suspensions were given.
The constitutional amendment process is outlined in the ASUR constitution. In regards to passing amendments “typically there isn’t too much push back on anything. I have never had an amendment that has been rejected,” said Hall.
Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Kristyn Paez.