Two weekends ago police found seven dorms in Eagle Village that were unlocked and had students drinking or intoxicated inside.
Of those seven incidents, eighteen students were judicially referred while two were arrested.
The deciding factor for officers regarding whether a student receives a judicial referral or is arrested and judicially referred can vary, Chief Mike Russell, director of the Office of Public Safety, said.
It also depends on the severity of each individual situation.
“If we’re doing a residence hall check and someone comes out of a room and they’re holding a bottle of beer and they’re nineteen and they’re not overly intoxicated, that person is probably going to get referred,” Russell said. “Whereas if we find someone staggering down the middle of Chandler Road that is .20[BAC] or something, that person is more than likely to be arrested.”
Russell said that judicially referring a student instead of arresting him or her is not being lenient, it’s utilizing another option to reprimand or educate students when they would normally not be taken to jail.
Once a student is arrested by Georgia Southern University police or by Statesboro police, the Office of Student Conduct is notified and that student must then also go through the judicial referral process.
Associate Dean of Students Kerry Greenstein said the biggest difference for students that are arrested is that they have to deal with the courts and GSU instead of just a hearing through the student conduct office.
“We shouldn’t look at them as criminals and that they’re bad people. Maybe they just made a bad mistake or poor choice and we can help them with that,” Greenstein said.
If a student wished to show that they were not responsible for whatever situation brought them to the student conduct office’s attention, he or she could present a case during a formal hearing to a board made up of faculty, staff and fellow students that have received training before becoming board members.
Greenstein said that board members are instructed to remove themselves from the hearing if they realize they know the student in question.
While the three-strike policy creates guidelines for alcohol violations, it does not apply to situations such as drug use, domestic abuse, rape or theft. Greenstein said that alcohol is the center of most cases that are referred to his office.
“[A judicial referral] allows it to be an educational process. We know students are going to drink, we’re not trying to stop that. We want students to drink responsibly if you’re going to drink,” Greenstein said.
Most students wait a week between when the meeting is set with the student conduct office and when it will occur. For that week, the stress of possible punishments to come weighs on them while they still must go to class. This is where having an advocate becomes helpful, Greenstein said.
“When a student has been arrested, there’s a lot of other stuff going on. They’ve got a lot of other concerns and issues,” Greenstein said. “It’s stressful to go through a semester and try to be successful as a student when you maybe missed a day or two because you were in jail overnight.”
Greenstein said Professors are not notified if one of their students is judicially referred, but parents are.