An Explanation of the White Book Changes Process
By Wyn Ponder In light of the recent open trial, the White Book Committee has made elected to make various changes in how the Executive Committee’s system should run.
The White Book is a handbook that defines and outlines the procedures of the Executive Committee. Every three years, there is a committee of students elected who make various changes to the book. The students on the committee apply to the EC in the fall, interviewing and submitting applications outlining their experience and capability for the position.
Jack Masterson, a member of the White Book Committee, said that they present the proposed changes to the EC, and the EC then votes on those changes individually. The changes that are not accepted are given back to the committee, and can be amended accordingly. If the EC rejects a change, the rejected changes can be taken to the student body to override the EC’s decision.
“Most of the decisions we voted on were pretty unanimous,” said Masterson. “If not, the decision was held to a vote, or if it’s a tie, the decision is left to the committee’s chair.”
The majority of the decisions were made following the open trial. Masterson said it was unique to see an open trial first-hand in order to see what needed to be changed.
The committee decided that in subsequent open trials, there is a certain point when the trial should be called for the night and resumed later, so the jury does not have to stay up the entire night.
“This was so the jury can be in the right state of mind…we would be sequestering them while they’re sleeping [so their decision could not be tainted].”
The committee also decided to change the way the jury is selected, by asking during the interview process if the potential jury member would be able to carry out the single sanction if necessary. This addition evaluates whether or not the prospective jury member would be able to serve as the deciding vote if the verdict would and should be guilty.
The committee discussed the issue of letting journalism publications cover open trials in the future, but decided against it.
“We understand [publications] wanting to be able to publish information about the trials, it makes sense,” said Masterson. “But something printed on campus, in this day and age, everything is public and its supposed to stay within our community. The last thing you want is a media swarm on campus drawing national attention.”
Finally, the committee decided to allow students to self-represent themselves in future public hearings, instead of having someone else represent them.
“Every change we made was in the best interest of the student body, and everything we added, the student body would be more likely to agree with than the EC.”