Apr 122009
Authors: Ruthie Hubka

Since joining the judicial branch of Associated Students of Colorado State University, I’ve received utterly confused looks from friends, followed by the inevitable, “So, what does the Supreme Court do?”

A general poll of students would not probably shed much light on this question. It seems to be a completely foreign concept to most that ASCSU has a judicial branch capable of making autonomous decisions that are binding on members of the other two branches.

If you’re not familiar with ASCSU, you may wrongly be under the impression that student governments are identical, in both structure and responsibilities.

For example, the University of Northern Colorado Student Representative Council is one of the many universities without any judicial branch. Their SRC consists of a largely bureaucratic structure.

On the other hand, the University of Colorado Student Union has a judicial branch with a chief justice and six associate justices, like ASCSU. However, the UCSU justices hold only half the decision-making authority that the ASCSU Supreme Court does. But maybe this only demonstrates that old rivalries can devolve even to the level of organizational charts.

Like UCSU’s judicial branch, the ASCSU Supreme Court holds internal jurisdiction over cases and disputes that arise within student government. For example, you may recall last year’s appeal of the ASCSU general election, or this spring’s case concerning senators’ qualification for serving in the Senate. The CU-Boulder student judicial branch only hears internal cases like these.

If that was all that our Supreme Court did, I may never have joined./

The ASCSU Supreme Court’s additional responsibilities make it different from most student judicial branches. The role that our justices play in the affairs of CSU students, usually below the radar, completely outpaces the activities of the other higher education institutions in Colorado.

As justices, we spend most of our time in a variety of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services hearings, offering a voice for the students of CSU through our unique partnership with CRSCS.

The administrative hearings naturally employ certain legalistic elements, but we are not there to approach them as apprentice judges or attorneys. We have the ability and responsibility to provide a decision in the interests of three parties: the community, the university and the individual student.//////

For example, if a student applies for admission to CSU with a criminal history, an ASCSU justice sits on the pre-admission hearing board along with a CRSCS staff member, a representative of the Counseling Center and a CSU Police Department officer to decide whether or not the prospective student will present a risk to CSU.

As your fellow students we consider your unique situation and determine what will best serve CSU and its students.

Our ability to share our point of view for students when they may have come into conflict with the university provides for our direct involvement with the welfare and quality of the CSU community, a unique responsibility that few other student government judicial branches can claim.

Ruthie Hubka is a senior political science major and an associate justice on the ASCSU Supreme Court. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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