Anonymous until proven guilty

The Student Organizations Sanctions Committee (SOSC) is a committee, composed of both students and staff, under College Council (CC) whose purpose is to evaluate and discipline student groups that violate college policies, mostly those concerning hazing. We at the Record commend CC on forming a permanent committee that moderates cases of hazing, holding all CC-funded student groups to the same standards. After a recent case, CC introduced a bylaw last week that would allow groups under scrutiny by the SOSC to remain anonymous to both CC and the general student body unless they are found guilty. Anonymity will be granted to both innocent cases and to groups given formal warnings.

While we do go to a small school and thus the actual anonymity of cases could be hard to protect, the anonymity bylaw prevents formal, official reports. In the past, the issue would be brought into general CC meetings, and therefore be recorded in CC minutes, regardless of the verdict. Considering that these minutes are a matter of public record online, we believe the anonymity will help prevent a certain degree of social ostracism, and will also prevent false perceptions of accused groups. Groups given formal warnings also have the option to the warning before CC, renouncing their anonymity in doing so.

However, given that a formal warning issues some culpability for actions, we are skeptical that anonymity should be given to those groups given a warning. The purpose of this committee is to help make the campus a safer place for underclassmen who would theoretically be on the receiving end of group hazing; underclassmen should be informed of the controversy within the groups they are interested in joining. Furthermore, we understand that this is a CC committee and, therefore, only has jurisdiction over CC-funded groups. We believe, however, that it is unfair that all groups on campus are not examined under the same scrutiny. As we addressed in our editorial from last year, the committee cannot discipline or issue a formal warning to a varsity team or even the Record if the code of conduct were violated (“Holding each other accountable,” October 23, 2013).

While we commend CC on taking charge and creating this committee, we still believe that this issue calls for an overarching structure outside of CC. This is an opportunity for the College to examine how all groups are monitored on campus.