COURTING DISASTER?

ON CAMPUS For many, the idea of a “student court” conjures up images of earnest freshmen doling out demerits
for plagiarism or hazing. It’s a different story at SMU, where the college judicial system reserves the right to
handle far more serious cases including felony thefts, DWIs, rapes, and even homicides. When the SMU system heard a
rape case this past semester-without reporting it to legal authorities-the result was a storm of controversy.

“Universities are not in a position to deal with crime, ” says Assistant District Attorney NORM KINNE. “Crime
is a matter to be dealt with by the courts. Universities are there to educate. Crime is totally outside their
jurisdiction. “

Maybe so, but with its campus police force and judicial system, SMU can arrest individuals, try their cases, convict
them, and hand down punishment. And Kinne’s reservations aside, campus authorities think their system, one of a
handful like it in the country, is a good one.

In the case that drew Kinne’s wrath, a male student was found guilty of rape and irresponsible conduct, and sentenced
to two years’ suspension. The decision was handed down by three students. one faculty member, and one administrator.
The student then appealed the decision to the University Judicial Council (two administrators, three students, and two
faculty members, one from the school of law). That group voted to overturn the “sentence, ” a decision that now only
President A. Kenneth Pye can change.

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