The Student Promise and Social Justice

Posted on: September 17th, 2014

David S. Lewis, Student Community Board member, reflects on the importance of justice in conflict resolution.

Often when people hear the name Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) they think of a ‘forbidden’ office. Students actively (habitually? routinely?) try to avoid the office at all costs. However, I have discovered that OSCCR is an office that genuinely cares about the students and the student promise. As a member of the Student Community Board, I have the honor of taking part in actively ensuring that this is the case. As a whole, in order to better serve as advocates for social justice, we utilize restorative justice throughout the conduct process.

I believe that the key to justice is the fair-minded treatment of all people. Justice is fairness from an objective point of view. Whether someone commits an egregious crime or a petty one, I believe that they both deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect. Each person has their own unique interpretation of an incident, and I believe it is of paramount importance to allow students to share their perspective of a situation before enacting judgment. Rather than just assigning responsibility to a person, it is important to make sure that each student feels that they are treated with respect. I also believe that Restorative Justice is an extremely important component of Loyola’s conduct process. Restorative Justice allows people to reflect on what they have done, or have been accused of doing, while allowing them the opportunity to remedy their situation by learning a lesson. This is a case by case procedure, as any blanket rulings of policy would not seem very just. OSCCR uses restorative justice as their conduct model to encourage student development throughout the duration of their time at Loyola. It is a method that the office uses to repair and strengthen the bond between the ‘offender’ and the ‘community’; this bond is frequently damaged during the student’s actions of misconduct. This model helps to separate Loyola’s conduct process from a court of law because our sanctions are not punitive, but rather constructive. This is due largely to the Student Promise: Care for Self, Care for Others, Care for Community.

The Student Promise is a unique contract that we as students at Loyola should all adhere to. I think that the three simple statements are so powerful merely because there are so many ways for students to interpret and enact each one. I like to think of the statements not as individual or linear, but as a network of care. One of the most important components of the Student Promise is its creation by students, for students. In this way Loyola is helping to shape the lives of students to do remarkable things. I like to think of the student promise as a beneficent student code, one meant to do good not just for the individual, but for others, and for the community. This is why I joined the Student Community Board. It is a rare opportunity to be able to sit down with other students and help to be a catalyst of social justice. I take this to be a model not just for isolated moments, but as template for all decisions in my life.

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