AMS to bring back student court for conflict mediation

The AMS plans to reinstate their student court in the upcoming weeks.

The student court, which has been around since the mid-1970s but has not been filled since 2009, aims to bring together a diverse group of students to mediate disputes and resolve interpersonal issues between students, clubs and AMS members and make suggestions on the position that the AMS should take in specific instances.

This was also before the AMS instated an official ombudsperson position for conflict management and resolution. The AMS is still in the process of figuring out how the two will work alongside each other.

In June, the AMS Council decided to bring back the original student court structure to work alongside the current ombudsperson but did not act upon it until recently when they announced that they would be posting the positions for the court at the February 4 council meeting.

AMS President Tanner Bokor said that since the student court was never officially dissolved, council felt that it was necessary to continue filling it each year.

"Student Court is to be a standing body in the AMS Bylaws, and should have been called sooner. We’re now just following the necessary processes to comply with our bylaws as set by students, and that process took time," said Bokor.

The AMS will hire several students to serve as judges at the court and be called in on a per-case basis when mediation is requested. The rest of the court will be selected among current UBC students.

According to Bokor, the idea behind student court was to have a representative group of students who can critically and objectively examine situations that may come up among students and will require a response from the AMS.

"[The court] can objectively take a look at a circumstance and report to Council on how they would recommend following that, so that’s really where their function lies now," said Bokor.

At the same time, Bokor stressed that while the student court will serve as advisors to the society, they will not have the power to mandate specific actions or decisions. AMS Council would still need to vote whether to act upon the recommendations of the student court.

"If decisions would break our code or by-laws or anything there or even the law, then it would be the responsibility of the directors to say ‘Nope, we can’t go for this,’" said Bokor. "But it depends on the circumstance because we really do view student court as that neutral third party."