Student-run Colby College circuit court SHALL be added

In the United States of America, the parties involved in a civil case have the right to appeal a court’s decision to the next higher court, theoretically all the way up to the US Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation. This is true from sea to shining sea – that is, except for our little corner of Waterville, Maine. Here, a student has the chance to appeal a civil allegation such as a parking ticket or a disciplinary notice once and only once. This is not only irresponsible, but a disservice to the pursuit of justice that this nation claims to value too highly. It has even been alleged that the author himself writes with a pointless superfluous verbosity – fie, folly, and fodder! It would serve well to take these critics to some tribunal for their formal adjudication. Rather than have members of the administration determining the fates of Colby students, it should be right and just to implement a local, student-run circuit court on Colby’s campus to rule on these matters.

Ask a member of the College’s administration who’s been sufficiently spoon-fed, and they’ll tell you that dissent is at the heart of what Waterville’s great institution represents. In fact, in an email recently sent out to the student body, Colby’s very own impartial arbitrator and card-carrying member of the “Powers that Be” club, David Greene, writes how those at the College “are committed to ideological…diversity on campus.”

Truly, dissidence is just another sign of the times. If ever there were a setting for the cultural zeitgeist to be over-the-top contention, it would be right here, and right now. In fact, the New York Times recently ran an article that claimed that “the United States is already the most litigious society in the world. We spend about 2.2 percent of gross domestic product, roughly $310 billion a year, or about $1,000 for each person in the country on tort litigation, much higher than any other country.”  Naturally, this begs the thought of what a glorious micro-society Mayflower Hill would become if each and every Colby student were provided with this $1,000 as a subsidy to use toward paying court fees.

How many countless times have students failed to provide adequate atonement in the wake of a minor squabble? A trivial tiff? Or even, say, an immaterial quarrel? Moreover, what better way to pseudo-celebrate what minuscule pittances are won in typical college disputes than by using a highly-technical and arduous litigation process? Just imagine, for sake of frivolity, a class-action lawsuit filed by the student body seeking compensatory damages for the faulty WiFi. Or, a headline-drawing trust-busting case against the “Spa,” formally known as the Cotter Student Union. A motivated student might even take their own suitemate to student court for refusing to wash the dishes despite a well-documented agreement of responsibility in the form of a chore wheel taped on the fridge.

Risking redundancy, it’s safe to point out that it would truly behoove us all to give in to the modern era, which is trending overwhelmingly in favor of suits and countersuits. It should be no trouble at all for the administrations’ eagle-eyed culture vultures to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by avoiding the wild goose chase of student chastisement altogether and flock together under the concept of autonomous justice.

After some thoughtful consideration (or even, none at all), the notion of ceding the task of students’ reprimand to the students themselves makes total sense. A student-run courthouse would follow all the established criterion of any other modern house of tribune, but on a much more controllable scale. In this idyllic alternate reality, Colby students would be able to apply for Colby-funded jobs similar to the ones already in existence across campus–tour guides, mail center workers, lifeguards, and help desk jockeys, to name a few. The difference? The demand for these jobs would suddenly plummet once opportunities are introduced for students to be court stenographers, paralegals, bailiffs, and, of course, legal representatives. Of course, more consequential roles such as judges and mid-recess entertainers would be elected at the start of each term, in a similar fashion to how student representatives who serve on Colby’s Student Government Association are determined.

Students who present claims to the court or who are summoned to appear in court would be able to elect a team of students to proceed litigiously on their behalf, or, alternately, be provided with one of the student lawyers on the College’s retainer. Since the overwhelming majority of cases presented to this courthouse would be relatively inconsequential, trials stretching more than several hours should be expected to be few and far between. This means that students would be able to go to classes in the morning and court for the afternoon, or vice versa. But in cases where this doesn’t work out, perhaps to some, the greatest byproduct of this concept would be an entirely brand new excuse to miss class. What right-minded individual, or even a Colby professor, would deny the privilege of their students to serve on the student jury duty?

To those who somehow still see this idea as anything short of brilliant, you’ll see your day in court soon enough. Regardless, in the meantime, the author eagerly invites constructive criticism, and even tolerates oppositional slander, to be sent to his email cmalie21@colby.edu.

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