A Note from Student Court Chairman Alex Cartwright

Alex Cartwright

Recent events have brought the role of the Student Court into prominence, and, as Chairman, I would like to remind the Hampden-Sydney alumni community how the court functions.

The Student Court is currently comprised of nine members – three each from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, elected by their classmates – and the Chairman, elected by the student body. Freshman court members are not elected until the latter half of the spring semester.

Many people incorrectly refer to the Student Court as the Honor Court. Although we do hear Honor Code cases, we also hear cases that involve the Code of Student Conduct. Typically, the Code of Conduct situations are adjudicated by the Dean of Students and the Student Court Chairman; however, when a code of conduct situation has the potential to merit separation from the College, the Court holds a trial. Under normal circumstances, no student can be separated from the College without a trial before the Court. Logistically, the procedures for a Code of Conduct trial do not differ from an Honor Code trial. If a student is found guilty of an Honor Code violation, he is separated from the College for a period determined by the Court. Separation, although possible, is not mandatory for those found guilty of Code of Conduct offenses.

Anyone who participates in a Court trial, as an accused, witness, or investigator, signs a confidentiality agreement. Violation of that agreement is considered lying, an Honor Code violation. In the court room, we do our best to treat everyone equally and fairly, and we do our best to ensure that the accused has his privacy guaranteed. If the accused is found innocent, there is no further mention of the trial, nor are any records preserved. If the accused is found guilty, only the offence, verdict, and sanction are announced. Of course, if a student is found guilty, he may appeal to the Appeals Committee, comprised of faculty and students, and from there to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.

As Student Court Chairman, I view my chief responsibility as ensuring that each Hampden-Sydney student is given a just trial in accordance with due process in order to protect the interests and integrity of our Honor System and Hampden-Sydney College. That is the guiding principle that I encourage our Court to use when making decisions. Our decisions are made based on a ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ which is information that only those in the courtroom are privy to; thus, my request is that everyone have confidence in a Student Justice System that has served Hampden-Sydney for decades and trust that the decisions made by Student Court are just for the accused and the best for our College.

Sincerely,

Alexander C. Cartwright ‘13
Chairman, Student Court