During the 2014-2015 academic year, the Judicial Board (J-Board) heard 13 cases according to its annual report released last Wednesday. Of these cases, nine involved allegations of Academic Honor Code violations, while four involved allegations of Social Code violations.

Four cases involving sexual misconduct were reported to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, though none were heard by the Sexual Misconduct Board.

The annual report, sent to all faculty, staff and students via email, is available online but requires a Bowdoin username and password to access. It lists violations and punishments, with the names of the accused kept anonymous. 

According to the College’s website, the Academic Honor Code “covers student conduct in such activities as classroom and laboratory assignments, examinations, quizzes, papers, and presentations,” while the Social Code “governs non-academic student conduct.” The student-run J-Board hears cases of alleged violations of both.

Each of the nine academic violations involved either plagiarism or cheating. Three of the four Social Code violations pertained to “two separate incidents of assault,” while the fourth involved a purse theft. 

Deans review each J-Board punishment recommendation, and this year they accepted all but one of them. In the one exception, the J-Board recommended that a student who had plagiarized three sentences for a short extra-credit assignment receive an F in the course and be suspended for a semester with the opportunity to transfer one credit during the suspension. Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Kim Pacelli declined to accept the suspension due to concerns about the proportionality of the punishment.

The J-Board itself consists of 13 members who are chosen to serve on cases at random. Panels hearing academic cases consist of three students and two faculty members, while the panels hearing social cases consist of five students. 

J-Board Chair Maggie Acosta ’16 expressed confidence in the board.

“The process of coming to a consensus [for each case] has certainly been extremely thoughtful,” Acosta said.

In ruling, the J-Board considers the “facts and context of the situation” as well as the “precedent from relevant past cases,” according to the report. 

For the upcoming school year, Acosta explained that, while respecting precedent, she personally would like to consider the specifics of a new case more closely. 

“I’m certainly interested in seeing specifics and individuality being taken into account with a greater degree than I feel they’ve been taken into account in the past,” Acosta said. “The details that play into a person’s decision-making skills when they arrive here at Bowdoin, as they navigate their time here at Bowdoin are things worth considering.” 

Of the four sexual assault cases, the College’s Investigator under the Student Sexual Misconduct and Gender Based Violence Policy determined there was an “insufficient basis” for board reviews in two cases, while two others were resolved via student resignations prior to the College’s investigation. 

Though separate from the J-Board, the Sexual Misconduct Board chooses two members of the J-Board to serve on it. Acosta noted that, as a result of a recent change, these two members will now be able to participate as active members, whereas previously they had served as observers.