Every student who is found guilty, or “responsible,” during the MU student conduct process is fined $125 by the Office of Student Accountability & Support (OSAS). This $125 fine is called the “judicial processing fee.” OSAS uses the money collected from the “judicial processing fee” to “offset costs,” including paying the wages of OSAS staff.
Because OSAS staff financially benefit when they find students “responsible,” there exists more incentive for them to find students responsible than not responsible. Students do not receive equal or fair treatment during the judicial process when those who judge their actions are more likely to find students responsible instead of offering objective investigations. The “judicial processing fee” then distorts the university judicial process by making it so that more students may be found responsible than actually are.
During the 2017–18 academic year alone, OSAS found 957 “responsible” decisions, which equates to $119,625 paid by students for the “judicial processing fee.” The dramatic increase in the number of students accused of violating the recently created university COVID-19 policies — 270 students as of Aug. 31 — shows the need to address the inequities created by the “judicial processing fee” as soon as possible.
Student Rights Advisers, a recognized student organization at MU, proposed in an open letter to OSAS that the office eliminate the “judicial processing fee” entirely. Or, OSAS should create a written policy that allows for students to complete alternative sanctions instead of paying the fee. Either solution ends the inequities that the “judicial processing fee” creates for MU students.
Doug Reynolds is the founder and president of Student Rights Advisers.