An investigation of the impact and meaning of the informal, non-academic campus judicial process for undergraduate students
Howell, Martin Tate
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The purpose of this study was to better understand the meaning students make of their interactions with campus judicial systems. It addressed research questions concerning students’ thoughts and feelings during the experience, views of the fairness of the process, views about personal outcomes from the process, and perceptions of ways the process may have affected them. The study was qualitative in nature and utilized a multiple case study approach. Ten students from three Research I institutions in the Southeastern U.S. were observed and interviewed. The findings are presented in categories that generally parallel the research questions. Choice of informal resolution describes the most important reasons students gave for resolving their cases informally: (a) expediency, (b) uncertainty, and (c) culpability. Affective experiences describes the thoughts and emotions faced by the participants. Two subcategories are discussed: (a) anxiety, and (b) relief. Perceptions of fairness explores the participants’ views of the fairness of the judicial process. Those who thought that the process was fair identified four reasons: (a) reasonable consequences, (b) opportunity to choose, (c) opportunity to explain, and (d) rules and punishment. Two students felt that the process was unfair, because of (a) perceived bias in the process and (b) perceived double jeopardy. Perceptions of outcomes describes how participants viewed the results of the process given their circumstances. Students generally described their outcomes in positive terms, although two students described their outcomes in neutral terms. Learning attained explores what participants believe they learned as a result of the campus judicial process. Four subcategories are discussed: (a) consideration of consequences, (b) empathy, (c) familiarity with judicial procedures, and (d) no perceived learning. Future behaviors looks at how students believe they will moderate their behavior as a result of the experience. Students generally indicated that they would not repeat the specific behavior that violated the code of conduct. However, students were reluctant to change their behaviors around alcohol. Finally, complementary findings includes findings that were not related to the original research questions. Two subcategories are discussed: (a) the experiences of students who have a concurrent court process, and (b) advice that students would give others about to enter the campus judicial process.
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