Judicial Board: Protecting students’ rights

During the first year at college, students usually need to familiarize themselves with the campus.  From the building layouts to professors’ office hours to the various campus resources available, it can be a lot of information to absorb in a short amount of time. The most commonly overlooked detail is the one that is most important to student life on campus: students’ rights.

Yes, college students do have rights. In fact, The University of Southern Mississippi has an organization dedicated to the preservation of these rights: the Student Government Association Judicial Board.

The SGA is comprised of the Cabinet, the Senate and the Judicial Branch.

The Judicial Branch is comprised of a board of nine justices overseen by a chairman, a vice president and a secretary, similar to the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Judicial Branch specifically holds sole jurisdiction on the violations and interpretations [of] the SGA constitution and Student Code of Conduct,” said Christopher Brewer, attorney general and chairman of the board.

These infringements can range anywhere from parking violations to weapon and drug violations. All appeals related to these infringements are heard by the Judicial Board during their meetings on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. in Union Room D at the Thad Cochran Center.

Five justices are appointed on odd-numbered years, four on even-numbered years and each justice serves a two-year term. The justices are selected from a pool of current SGA members.

The Judicial Branch is dedicated to clearing up any gray areas of the Constitution or student rights and privileges.

As a resource to the students of Southern Miss, actions of the board are not very well-known.

Brewer seeks to change this. “I want to give students the opportunity to do real work [with SGA],” he said. “You can’t teach experience; you have to go through it yourself.”

In addition to awareness, members of the SGA Judicial Board, seek to expand the role of the Judicial Board.

“I want to see … separate branches within the Judicial Branch,” Brewer said. “Every freshman class is the [next] biggest class. I want to go along with the expansion of the university itself within the Judicial Branch,” he said.

Any USM student is eligible to join SGA so long as they have been enrolled for one semester prior to applying and have a 2.5 grade point average. Applications are available during the spring semester.

For freshmen who want to get involved, applications for Freshmen Associates are available online.

For more information, contact Christopher Brewer at chr[email protected] or visit www.southernmisssga.org.