Professional Student Government to create U’s first student judicial branch system

Brian Edwards

University of Minnesota Professional Student Government members will soon be able to appear before a set of justices in order to solve disputes. 
The PSG recently established a judicial branch in its system, a common feature of government groups at other schools. 
The change comes shortly after a campus-wide referendum in April passed, splitting professional and graduate student government into two separate groups — PSG and the Council of Graduate Students
Other student government groups at the University have had executive and legislative branches but don’t have a judicial branch for resolving conflicts that arise within the groups. 
Kyle Kroll, the newly elected president of PSG, said the past system for settling disputes created conflicts of interest, with presidents sometimes handling complaints against themselves, often causing the Office for Student Affairs to get involved.
He said the current dispute resolution process isn’t effective because the Office for Student Affairs can’t always tell the independent student governments what to do.
PSG is comprised of nine councils with a tenth one to be added soon. Kroll said each council will have the opportunity to appoint one justice, who will hold the seat until they either graduate or resign.
One of the court’s biggest responsibilities would be mediating disputes between the graduate student councils, Kroll said.
“Some of the councils already have a quasi-judicial system in place for things like honor code violations,” he said. “This provides a last resort mechanism.”
Though this will be the first time that a University of Minnesota student government will have a judicial branch, there are similar systems in place at other Big Ten schools, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University, Indiana University and Ohio State University.
Alborz Hassani, Chief Justice of Purdue’s student government said his school’s judicial branch handles issues ranging from student rights to parking ticket complaints.
“Another thing we do is Know Your Rights Week,” he said. “One example was Parking Regulations Day this semester.”
Students were given information about parking laws around campus and how to avoiding parking tickets, which Hassani said are common during winter months. 
Kroll said one of the larger goals of the branch is to inspire the Council of Graduate Students and the Minnesota Student Association to create a similar system. 
“One day we might be able to form a joint judiciary so there is a Supreme Court for all students that has a final say on student matters,” he said.