Student Conduct Board Reacts to Oja’s Column

To the Editor:

We write in response to Matt Oja’s commentary entitled “Bisson and the Administration Abuse Power” (October 28 issue of the Maroon-News). As background, the Board is comprised of five students elected by students, three faculty members elected by faculty, and two staff members (hardly “The Administration”). Dr. Bisson, in her position on the Dean of College staff, organizes the hearings. Dr. Bisson does not have a vote on the issue of responsible/not responsible and votes during the sanction phase only if there is a tie. Dr. Bisson has always proven herself to be honest, fair and reasonable. Her actions have shown us that she cares deeply for students, more so than most will ever realize.

As members of the Student Conduct Board, we are unable to respond directly to Matt’s allegations since Board proceedings are confidential (partially due to federal laws protecting a student’s right to confidentiality). The community should know, however, that we stand behind both the process and decisions that we make. It is important to realize that our decisions are based on all of the evidence which is presented over the course of a hearing, and witnesses ordinarily are not present for the entire hearing. Please bear in mind when you read Matt’s commentary that you are reading Matt’s version of events of a hearing, which by his own account, he attended only briefly. Any so-called “public” information about the facts of any case should be regarded with skepticism, as the full version of the facts considered by the Board in reaching its decision cannot be made public.

In the ideal world there would be no need for a student conduct board. The reality is that we need one. The current board feels autonomous and free of pressure from “The Administration” and puts in many thankless hours trying to make Colgate a better place. Dean Bisson and other members of the Dean of College staff are not responsible for the decisions we make and certainly do not have the power to control those decisions.