ASJ checks and balances Northern

Elizabeth Bailey

The system of checks and balances is normally what comes to mind when hearing “judicial branch,” but in the case of NMU’s All Student Judiciary that isn’t the case.

ASJ is considered the judicial branch of Northern’s student government, Associated Students of NMU. The board, which currently has 10 active members, can have no more than 16.

“All judicial responsibility is vested in ASJ,” said Drew Janego, vice president of ASNMU. “They deal with violations of the Student Code, ASNMU election complaints, the constitutionality of the general assembly and anything that ASNMU passes.”

The board’s main responsibility is to hear cases that involve students who violate the rules of NMU’s Student Code.

According to Darren Widder, graduate assistant for student conduct, most of the cases the board hears are minor offenses ranging from noise violations to sexual harassment; however, consequences are usually nothing more severe than a suspension.

In order to be a member of ASJ, students must have completed 12 credit hours at NMU, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and be free of any university probation.

Any case with the possibility of expulsion is heard in front of the Student-Faculty Judiciary. ASJ members can become a member of SFJ after completing one semester on the All Student Judiciary board.

“The goal is to have the All Student Judiciary represent the student population as much as possible,” said Mary Brundage, associate dean of students and advisor of ASJ. “As the adviser, I like to see a good blend of background, major, personality and ways of thinking.”

According to Brundage, the judicial board hears all information presented from both sides, asks questions, and then determines if the student charged violated the Student Code.

“The Student Code is written in an effort to protect the rights of all members of the NMU community,” Brundage said. “It is important that NMU produce graduates who are not only competent academically, but are also of good moral character and citizenship.”

This year, ASJ proposed to “break away” from ASNMU, due to it being a referendum year. ASNMU is in the process of re-writing its constitution in order to make the two groups separate.

If approved, ASJ will essentially be its own “student conduct board,” and ASNMU will have its own judicial branch that is not connected to the Dean of Students Office.

“[It] makes no sense to have a conduct board tied to a student government,” Brundage said. “Then it makes the students feel like they’re being judged by their student government.”

Although ASJ and ASNMU are connected by constitution, they have nothing to do with each other, Brundage said.

Most of the time when ASNMU brings something in front of ASJ, they have no idea how to handle it because it’s not something they do on a daily basis, Brundage said.

“Members of ASJ gain personal experience with critical thinking ability, teamwork, ethics, leadership and organizational procedure,” Brundage said. “I cannot think of an employer who wouldn’t value these skills.”