As the student-led disciplinary board begins its spring semester training, Pomona College’s Judicial Council (JBoard) seeks to increase transparency and interaction with Pomona’s student body.
JBoard releases its case files semesterly, with redacted information to protect student privacy. JBoard Chair Rya Jetha PO ’23 explained that the files are meant to inform panelists on the institutional precedent for handling certain kinds of disciplinary cases and they serve as a guide for respondents going through the process.
“For students going through the disciplinary process, the mechanics of how a hearing works, how a panel works can often be opaque,” Jetha said. “Going through the case history files is a good way to assuage those fears and see how the process works before you enter it yourself so that you’re not anxious and stressed about it.”
But despite JBoard’s existing efforts toward transparency, many students are completely unfamiliar with the council’s role in the disciplinary process. Even nearing his third year, Cole Kendrick PO ’25 shared this confusion.
“[Initially] I thought it was a group of administrators who tried to help the students be safe,” Kendrick said. “I think they try to be transparent in what they do. I know they sent emails about the student code, but [emails] get lost in the shuffle.”
The JBoard consists of four student chairs and 40 student panelists, overseen by three Student Affairs advisors. The judicial body rules over any cases relating to the Student Code of Conduct that are not under the jurisdiction of the faculty-run Student Affairs Committee or Student Code Administrators.
The student-run aspect of JBoard was designed to engage students in the conversations surrounding penalties, providing respondents with a panel filled with peers rather than faculty and administration.
JBoard trainings educate panelists on the current practices of JBoard, which include any amendments to the student code that are passed by their parent organization, the Student Affairs Committee (SAC). JBoard panelist Alessio Gonzalez PO ’26 explained that the panelists are intended to more effectively discern student character and context of the case than faculty.
“We [the panelists] sort of gauge whether or not they feel remorseful or that they didn’t really know that the thing that they did is wrong,” Gonzalez said.
Panelist Lexy Duffy PO ’26 felt the introduction of other students to the disciplinary process has been a successful aid in supporting classmates.
“People seem almost more comfortable being able to kind of speak amidst people they see day-to-day, people that are in that community from which their actions have affected,” Duffy said.
In the event of a Pomona College Student Code violation, the details of the case are compiled into a Statement of Alleged Policy Violation. Then, the case may be delegated to JBoard.
That student is then expected to meet with a student dean assigned to the case in order to determine whether to accept or deny responsibility for the infraction.
The majority of JBoard cases result in what is known as a “penalty hearing,” in which the panel decides on the course of action based on a case’s available evidence. However, there are many practices that fall outside of the JBoard’s purview.
“The council’s jurisdiction does not entail academic dishonesty, Title IX cases and drug and alcohol offenses,” Jetha said. “Those are received by the appropriate channels, such as the academic disciplinary board and the Title IX office.”
The Judicial Council previously governed over alcohol and drug offenses but has shifted towards restorative justice practices. Instead, students will talk with an administrator for their first or second violation to connect them to rehabilitative resources, if necessary.
“We found that students don’t relapse. They usually learn from their mistakes,”Jetha said. “There’s no point in going through the entire judicial process.”
Additionally, an amnesty policy stipulates that those who report any alcohol and drug violations will not have to go through the judicial process, either.
“We realized that that was just not a restorative practice,” Jetha said. “Students make mistakes, students are learning. They’re testing their limits.”
While JBoard is a designated judicial body, many of those involved see the future of the organization as more of a reformative and healing process rather than a truly judicial or penal one.
“What you’re seeing is much less of a focus on this really strong hand coming down on a student and more so ways to reintegrate back into the community,” Duffy said.
Jetha also hopes to demystify what JBoard does and emphasizes that their doors are always open to the community.
“At least since I became chair, we’ve had a lot of outreach efforts,” Jetha said. “It is hard to conceive what the disciplinary process of JBoard is like if you haven’t been through it yourself or you’re not involved in it. So that’s a continuing thing that we do.”