UPDATED: Student activities says no-contact order invalid for Lariat, court nullifies order

StuGov gavel

By Reubin Turner
City desk editor

UPDATED: At 11:30 p.m., Lariat editor-in-chief, Linda Wilkins, Tyrone, Ga., senior received a nullification document from Chief Justice Cody Coll, Roswell, N.M., junior, that states the Student Court renders null and void both the original order issued Thursday and the amended order issued Monday. The orders were nullified by unanimous decision.

The Department of Student Activities clarified Tuesday that the Student Court’s authority is limited to oversight of proceedings and parties involved in hearings.

The court’s jurisdiction was called into question last week when it issued a no-contact order to the Baylor Lariat. The order stemmed from the McCahill, Hardy v. Kinghorn case, in which two student senators filed a suit against the internal vice president. The document stated that no member of the press which the court has jurisdiction over could contact anyone on the court except for Roswell, N.M. junior Cody Coll, the chief justice of the court.

While Student Court has the authority to issue orders to parties directly involved in a case, director of student activities Matt Burchett said the court’s jurisdiction only extends to the parties involved in the case.

Since Thursday, several media outlets have waited for the university to speak on whether or not consequences for violating the order issued by Student Court would be enforced by the university.

Burchett said he could not remember another situation like this in his seven years at Baylor. He also said he understands both the Student Court and the Lariat are learning environments for students, and that any action taken by the university would be cognisant of this.

“At the university, we want to do everything possible to create a learning lab for our students which prepare them for life outside of school,” Burchett said.

If an order of the court is violated, the court has the right to issue a recommendation for disciplinary action for the student who violated the order. However, this student must be a party to the case.

“The Baylor Lariat is not currently cited in the hearing of McCahill v. Kinghorn and hence is not subject to the press limitations of the involved parties as noted by the court,” said a statement issued by the Department of Student Activities Tuesday.

Burchett said, according to the Student Body Constitution, the court is responsible for adjudicating matters between students v. students, organizations v. students, students v. organizations and other matters deemed necessary by Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president of student life, who can defer matters to the court.

The department’s statement said since the Lariat is a publication of Baylor University and not a student organization, it was not subjected to limits placed on it by the student court.

“The Lariat is not a student organization and thus is accountable to the faculty, academic departments and university administrative units that support its operations,” Burchett stated in an email sent out late Tuesday afternoon to clarify questions surrounding the issue.

While the Lariat is not subject to restrictions listed in the order, Burchett made it clear that students who are listed as parties in the case are subject to the limitations listed in the order.

“The court certainly has jurisdiction over those hearings, and so when parties are actively involved in those hearings or when justices are involved in those hearings, the court has the responsibility to ensure that those hearings are fairly conducted,” Burchett said.

Burchett said many of the steps the court has taken regarding the McCahill, Hardy v. Kinghorn case are within the scope of the court.

Issuing a no-contact order to parties of the case and instructing the associate justices to refer all media questions to Coll were all in the jurisdiction of the court. Coll was not available for comment at the time of publication.