Liberty Student To Present Bill Calling For Student Representation
When Liberty University junior Chance Stone shared a meme to his Facebook page, he did so because he thought it was funny.
He had no intention of offending anybody. He certainly had no idea he was violating the Liberty Way.
But after a professor reported the incident, Stone found himself in hot water with Student Conduct simply because the text on the image he shared contained a profane language.
Stone said he wishes that there was some sort of mediation between the Student Court and him and students who find themselves in trouble for violating the grayer areas of the Liberty Way.
The Liberty Way penalizes students with 18 points, a $250 fine and 18 hours of community service for obscene, profane or abusive language. Stone questions whether this includes sharing a picture with text.
“It’s very vague,” Stone said. “They need to be more specific about what they mean when they say ‘use of it.’ Especially since it wasn’t even my own wording, I just shared something.”
After hearing Stone’s story, SGA Delegate Aaron Tate has set out to do exactly that.
He is working on a bill that will significantly change the way the Student Court of Appeals deals with violations of the Liberty Way in two different ways. The first would extend the amount of time a student has to appeal a charge.
According to the Liberty Way, a student has two days to write out a justification to reduce or dismiss the charge.
With Stone’s busy schedule, the 48-hour period wasn’t enough for him to write an appeal.
“Last semester I was going home every weekend to work,” Stone said. “By the time I had some free time, the window had closed. I ran out of appeal time.”
Tate’s bill proposes to extend this period to at least 72 hours.
“They give such a short time frame to repeal it, and I feel like that’s unfair to people who are busy all the time,” Tate said. “Let’s allow at least three days, if not more, for a person to do some research and understand what they did.”
The second part of Tate’s bill would implement an undergraduate legal clinic for students wishing to seek help appealing their case. and students like him
“These will be your prelaw students — people that volunteer their time to get experience, learning how to research cases (and) get a better understanding on the legal aspect of it all.”
Tate says many facets of the Liberty Way are not as clear as they should be. One of the best examples is the section that states attendance at a dance will yield a maximum of six points and a fine of $25.
But the Liberty Way does not offer an explicit definition of a dance, and Tate wonders if students attending a wedding reception with dancing are to face the same repercussions as students who spend an evening in a nightclub.
“What defines a dance?” Tate said. “A dance can be open to interpretation.”
Tate says he thinks he has strong support for his idea, though he has not presented it widely across campus.
“So far, I’ve had tremendous support in my committee,” Tate said. “There’s probably some students on campus — and we have to represent them fairly as well — that would say no to this.”
Stone was ultimately found guilty of violating the Liberty Way. He was slapped with a $100 fine and 30 hours of community service.
He said that, had Tate’s program existed, things might have turned out differently. He fully supports Tate’s bill.
“It would be great,” Stone said. “Especially for someone who feels like their voice isn’t being heard.”
Tate does not have a final bill yet, but he is ironing out the details. But he says he already has the main point of this venture figured out.
“It’s for justice,” Tate said. “That’s why we’re doing this. Justice.”