Newly-established Judicial Council provides forum for student concerns

Tulane’s Undergraduate Student Government is currently accepting applications to its Judicial Council, a new branch of USG that will hear students’ appeals regarding the constitutionality of USG legislation. This initiative is a progressive step toward increasing transparency and expanding opportunities for student engagement on campus.

This new council reflects USG’s goal of creating a more transparent, receptive and representative body for Tulane as the role of student government organizations on college campuses across the country becomes more important and controversial. This new body represent a new opportunity for more Tulane students to both have a role in student government and be involved in campus affairs more directly, a matter coming increasingly important in today’s political climate.

The Judicial Council is part of a larger effort to increase the transparency of USG by providing the student body with an interactive body through which to engage with student government and check USG’s authority. By submitting an appeal through OrgSync, students can question legislation passed by USG and feel confident that their concerns will be taken seriously by an independent body.

Summaries of decisions, which will be available through USG’s website, will further ensure students understand decisions made by the Council. This type of forum is crucial in resolving conflicts that may arise between students, organizations and USG in a constructive and unbiased manner.

The Judicial Council was formed in response to concerns about the representation of students-at-large in USG, who lacked an efficient, confidential forum for students and organizations to appeal decisions made by USG, such as issues related to funding and organization status.

In recent months, universities across the country have taken center stage in political issues, often with disputed results. For instance, at the University of California, Berkeley, protests have become agitated and in some cases violent as students protest controversial guest speakers such as Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos. These events have divided the campus, and security measures have cost the university thousands of dollars.

While UC Berkeley is an extreme example of discord among students on campus, universities across the country have struggled to address the concerns of all students, especially regarding free speech and political unrest. Tense campus environments inhibit students’ abilities to express themselves. More than half of college students report that their campus climate prevents some people from expressing their opinions.

Last year, Tulane USG faced controversy for its decision to grant Turning Point USA, a conservative activist group, active club status on campus. The legislation caused debate over the limits of free speech on college campuses, with 17 students attending the hearing to voice their concerns. With the Judicial Council in place, concerned students will be able to appeal decisions they disagree with, giving them a new avenue to contest legislation and share their opinions.

The Council has the potential to open up avenues for discussion, involvement and cooperation at Tulane, promoting a campus climate in which students feel empowered and secure in their ability to speak up for things in which they believe.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected].

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