Former Student Conduct Board of Appeals members question inactive year

Brendan Heffernan, Life and Times Editor

In September of 2020, then Chief Student Conduct Officer Diana Ward appointed Randon Ladner to serve as chair of Loyola’s Board of Appeals, an organization made up of students and faculty selected to hear the cases of students and student organizations looking to appeal student conduct decisions.

Ladner, music industry senior, had served on the Board of Appeals since his freshman year and said he took great pride in his service and always strove to attend as many hearings as possible. The promotion felt like a validation of all his hard work Ladner said, but after nearly two full academic years as the board’s chair, the Board of Appeals has only been called to meet once.

Loyola’s Board of Appeals hasn’t been activated in over a year according to Chief Student Conduct Officer Akilah Jones. This inactivity has students who made their service on the board a significant part of their college experiences feeling slighted and concerned about the representation of students in the university’s conduct processes. These concerns echo issues other students have raised surrounding transparency in Loyola’s student conduct and Title IX policy.

“There was a lot of confusion, just a lack of communication there,” Ladner said. “Everything’s gone from consistent cases to be reviewed, staying on top of the process, and things being handled I felt fairly and systematically, suddenly coming to a halt.”

Henry Glick, philosophy senior, also began serving on the Board of Appeals as a freshman. Glick and Ladner both remember hearing a steady stream of appeals cases prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year and neither student has received any explanation for the lack of cases.

“There wasn’t any notification that any of us received, it was just a pure drop-off in involvement,” Glick said. “It was like everyone was silently removed from the process.”

For Glick, serving on the Board of Appeals was more than just something he did to pad his resume. Sharing his perspective in appeals hearings made him feel like he was helping his fellow students and he said the absence of opportunities to do that has left him feeling isolated from his campus community.

“This was sort of the way I could ensure that I could have a positive impact on the community even if most people never knew who I was or what I did,” Lawrence said. “As time wore on, I felt like I was becoming more disconnected from my involvement in the community.”

Jones said that Student Conduct has the authority to decide how to arbitrate appeals cases but declined to explain why her office hasn’t brought a new case before the board during her tenure. Rather than pleading their cases to the Board of Appeals, Jones said students who’ve appealed student conduct decisions this year have met with a university-appointed appellate officer.

Jones also said she regrets that she wasn’t able to communicate more clearly with the students on the Board of Appeals about the status of the institution.

“Having an email or some type of communication with them when I got here could have been helpful,” Jones said. “I wasn’t aware of all the members that were on the board, that information wasn’t passed on to me initially. There were a lot of things I was taking over in a transition of leadership so they’re obviously going to be things that are missed and not dealt with.”

While Ladner valued the opportunities he had to hear appeals cases, his biggest grievances about the situation are not personal. Ladner said he feels that when student voices are not included in the student conduct appeals process students are at a greater risk to receive final rulings that don’t match their offenses.

“I think that students not having access to the Board of Appeals process can easily result in students being too harshly punished and having their academic career tainted forever for something that didn’t really deserve that harsh of a punishment or that long-lasting of a punishment,” Ladner said.

Detric Robinson-Miller serves as a director-at-large on the board of the Association of Student Conduct Administration. Robinson-Miller said a healthy student conduct process requires both administrative expertise and student input.

“I think it’s going to be really important for both the conduct office as well as the student population to gain an understanding of what that shared responsibility is and how best to facilitate it,” he said. “If we (as administrators) are able to consider perspectives of the people that are impacted by our decisions, if we’re able to provide rationale and resources for why a decision is made, then I think we’re in a lot better shape.”