Student Court settles disputes, defends Student Constitution

Application deadlines to fill the two openings on Student Court are approaching. Jess Schurz | Photographer

By Rachel Royster | News Editor

Baylor’s Student Court serves students in a unique way by interpreting and upholding the Student Body Constitution in order to settle disputs all across campus.

The court acts as part of the judicial branch of student government in Baylor’s reflection of the U.S. Federal Government’s system.

“Controversies are inevitable and the courts’ role is to interpret and apply the Student Body Constitution to whatever controversy is brought before the court,” Student Court faculty advisor David Murdock, Ph.D., said. “The court operates separately from the other two branches but also works with both the executive and legislative branches, as the constitution requires.”

Associate Justice and McKinney senior Krishna Kandury said the Student Court is imperative to the student body because it encounters experiences similar to those of the students they serve.

“Some issues about students can only be resolved by other students, especially on matters of StuGov, and that’s what the court is here to help resolve,” Kandury said.

The Student Court resolves issues ranging from parking ticket appeals to disagreements between organizations on campus. Chief Justice and Frisco sophomore Isabelle Terry said issues like these are what inspired her to become part of the Student Court.

“Most of the time, Student Court handles parking ticket appeals that Baylor Parking Services wants us to review,” Terry said. “There have been times when the court will see cases of violations against the student constitution. When I was a freshman, I attended Groves v. Student Government. The case was incredibly interesting and is what motivated me to join the court.”

Kandury said in his time serving in the court, he has grown to appreciate the diversity of perspectives each of the seven justices and two clerks provide in each case.

“Honestly, I think it’s the other judges on the court that make the most difference; even on small issues like parking tickets, different people have different insights and ideas on how to go about coming to a verdict, and you learn to listen as much as you do to speak,” Kandury said.

Associate Justice and Austin senior Grace Gilmour said she sees her own personal improvement because of her time serving on student government.

“I have learned critical reading skills through analyzing appeals, as well as the Student Body Constitution. I have also learned how to better communicate,” Gilmour said. “From individuals making appeals to other associate justices, Student Court has helped me learn how to communicate with individuals who view an issue or a law in a manner very different from my own.”

Murdock said Student Court gives participants a rare insight into the inner workings of the student government.

“For students who serve on the Student Court, they get exposure to a judicial system that can help develop and improve their skill sets, such as active listening, critical thinking, research and writing,” he said. “Moreover, these skills are transferable to other disciplines and other career pursuits which can only benefit our students in the future.”

Gilmour said she wouldn’t be surprised to see her fellow justices take their talents further into the nation’s judicial systems

“Student Court is a diverse group of very talented and smart individuals, who genuinely desire the betterment of Baylor,” Gilmour said. “I am constantly inspired by my fellow members of Student Court, and I truly believe that many of my associate justices will go on to serve not only Baylor, but our country and the global community after graduation.”

Terry said she strongly urges sophomores who are interested to apply for the court’s two associate justice openings before applications close on Feb. 21.

“When I was a freshman, I thought the only way a person could be involved in student government was by running for senate or presidential positions,” Terry said. “When I learned about court, I thought it was an interesting opportunity to experience student government from a different perspective. Being in court has given me the opportunity to truly be involved in campus life. I have had the opportunity to hear about things happening at Baylor and in Waco that are really exciting that I would not have known about without being in student government.”