Tag Archives: Education

Restorative Justice: A Judicial Affairs Policy for the 21st Century Student Affairs Professional

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Crime and Punishment, a book about the real nature of punishment and prisons, as well as their downfalls. It is interesting to note however that even though this book was written in 1866, much of the world’s justice and prison systems still reflect an outdated model; Higher Education in the U.S is sadly no different when it comes to looking into many of the Judicial Affairs departments; these are also known as Student Conduct Offices to those institutions that are that much further behind the times.
Within Judicial Affairs, much like in Criminal Justice there are two schools of thought in respect to how to adjudicate policy/ legal violations by students:
1) Punitive– which can be simply summed up as punishing the perpetrator in such a fashion that punishment is not worth the benefit of violation.
2) Educational/ Learning Outcome Based– based off the basic philosophy of Higher Education in which the institution stands to educate the student; in this respect the institution will sanction the student to punishment that is not meant to be negative, but rather is to educate them in the matter of their violation so that their new knowledge will cause them to not reoffend.
For the better part of history, these have been the go-to methodologies for both Higher Education and Criminal Justice, with the pendulum of justice swinging from one extreme to the other as public’s opinion sways with the times and issues.
Not to fear though, much as with the rest of Higher Education, Judicial Affairs is also on the path to evolution; University of Colorado at Boulder can be viewed as the fish to first walk on land in this respect as it can be referred to the main proponent of Restorative Justice in Higher Education. I know what you are thinking, what is Restorative Justice, and why does it sound like a bad Fox show? The simple and at the same time complex answer to this question is that Restorative Justice is a reworking of our entire way of thinking about how crime and policy violations really should be adjudicated in regards t redefining the injured party and its role; this paradigm shift mainly calls for the crime/ policy violation to be between the perpetrator and the community/ actual injured party and not just the state/ institution i.e. Restorative Justice makes the perpetrator answer to those whom they actually wronged in an effort to restore the damage they did.draft_lens2352736module13212460photo_1230507471restorative_justice_umbrella_1
Now to many people, such a concept may sound a little like the eye for an eye mentality, and in some ways they would be right; Restorative Justice calls for the perpetrator to on several different levels, make things right again between themselves and the injured party. This newer concept has just really began to tap into its true potential, with the beginnings of having student perpetrators understand that their negative actions not only effect their fellow students, but at times even the community at large. It is by having the student understand that they are a part of the community and for better or worse, it is what they make of it; of course, for us Student Affairs professionals, we make sure to instill the notion that we want it to be for the better.

The Good, the Bad, and Student Affairs

SAI know from my own education that if I hadn’t encountered two or three individuals that spent extra time with me, I’m sure I would have been in jail.” – Steve Jobs

Well, when I said that the 2nd post would be far away, I wasn’t kidding; do you like how by posting this now after saying a 2nd post was coming soon I also established some credibility/ trust with you? So, while I know that almost everyone is a Student Affairs expert, let’s just humor me and placate those who may not be aware of what this field is; who knows, maybe we’ll all learn something.

I have been working in Student Affairs for almost 5 years, and yes it has all been for the glamour, fame, and riches; in case you didn’t catch it, this is that moment we all wish sarcasm could truly transfer to the written word. In all seriousness, such rewards are far and few between in the realm of Higher Education and Student Affairs. The reality is that most of us get into this business for the same reason teachers and social workers get into their own, because we love to help and make a difference. I know, from the sound of that, we come across as those people you see trying to raise funds to feed disenfranchised children. On that note I feel it my responsibility, for the sake of all Student Affairs professionals to clear the air that in fact we are here to serve the children; the children being your 18 and older children who have been working on/striving towards that pie in the sky dream, a college degree.

Now don’t think I have sold out on you just yet, but let’s examine what Student Affairs is from a business aspect. Imagine you are an investor and you want to invest in the future of a college student, a Student Affairs professional is who you want/ need on your team to “maximize” your investment; in this sense, Student Affairs professionals are those guys who spend their days and nights pondering “how can we improve our higher education system in every aspect”? In this regard Student Affairs are much like the guys who were first enlisted to put a man on the moon; people may have laughed at them at the time, but history proved that they weren’t just shooting for the moon (you know you love the puns).

So in case you haven’t yet seen the picture in this blog post illustrating the many facets of the Student Affairs arena, take a look; you may be surprised to see what fun/ critical areas of operation fall under this field. So no next time you’re out on the street and you see a guy typing on his phone while mumbling something about student housing assignments, write ups, financial aid, or pretty much anything else that keeps U.S. Higher Ed in business, put your hand on their shoulder (some warning to the person may be advised to avoid legal/martial arts response) and tell them “it’s all going to be okay…summer is just around the corner”.