Though designed to consist of twelve students, the Judicial Board is currently functioning with only eight members.
While the Board has enough students to serve its role in full, head of Appointments Committee John Iselin and J-Board co-chair Lilli Parator say that the shortage of students has significantly impacted the time commitment required of current members. “Each individual board member has a heavier workload than they would with a larger board,” says Parator. Iselin says that having to hear consecutive cases, particularly when they center on such harrowing issues as sexual assault, can also be a “huge emotional commitment.”
“Recruitment,” says Parator, “has always been difficult for the Board.” She notes that the student body’s central focus on academics often impedes students from making “the time and emotional commitment that being on the Board requires.” Given the statically small number of student applications each year, Parator concludes, “the Board is not of the opinion that ‘less’ students are being attracted.”
Iselin speculates that there are two possible explanations for the shortage of student participation. Every year, he says, new students enter Reed, old students graduate, and upperclassmen limit their extracurricular participation in order to accommodate their increasingly demanding academic commitments. It follows that the ebb and flow of interest in J-Board is tied to the ever-changing nature of Reed’s student body.
The other possibility, Iselin says, is that the Board’s advertising has changed or is somehow ineffective. He notes that outreach efforts are complicated; while the “word of mouth” method has successfully fostered student interest in the committee, the audience is limited to particular groups of friends and academic majors. Conversely, more widespread methods of outreach, including posters and the Student Information Network (SIN), have the potential to reach a more varied audience but are more easily skipped over or ignored.
Despite limited student interest, Judicial Board does not accept every student application. “Appointing good candidates is a first priority,” says Iselin. Co-Chairs Emma Mclean-Riggs and Parator still hope to appoint more candidates this fall.