WOMEN'S STUDENT SELF-GOVERNMENT
SINCE the formation of the Women's League in 1890, women's student self-government at Michigan has been an important factor in student life. Based on the principle that the problems of every woman are the concern of the Women's League, the resulting governmental function was a natural outgrowth. The history of the Women's Judiciary Council, consequently, is interwoven with the history of the Women's League. Through the co-operation of the dean of women, a system of self-government developed, with prestige and dignity for all women students.
Before the movement for residence halls began to take form, the diversity and lack of supervision in the student living units resulted in many inconsistencies in the rules and regulations enforced in the various houses. In March, 1913, the "Report of the Committee on House Clubs" (prepared by the Committee on Non-Athletic Organizations) was adopted by the University Senate. The report stated that "practically all of the house-clubs including the so-called league-houses of the women, were found to have house rules that in most cases were well conceived and … fairly well executed …" The report suggested a "reconsideration of these house rules" and recommended that "for the purpose involved the various clubs be divided into six groups: professional fraternities, professional sororities, general fraternities, general sororities, other men's house-clubs, and other women's house-clubs," and that action in disciplinary matters ratified by three-fourths of the clubs in any group be declared as binding upon all the members of that group.
In the spring of 1913, a delegate from the Women's League was sent to the first annual conference of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Association for Women's Self-Government (the Intercollegiate Association of Women Students). In May of the same year a "Self-Government" Committee was formed within the existing League structure to plan, with the house groups, a system of house government which would work into a larger system of self-government. Accordingly, upon petitioning the Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate, the Women's League was given permission to organize each residence housing five or more University women — with a house president and executive, advisory, social, and scholarship committees — and to regulate these houses under the general rules proposed by a Judiciary Council and ratified by the prescribed three-quarters vote.
The 1915 Constitution of the Women's League was the first to establish the three branches of self-government. The Board of Directors (executive) included the officers and chairmen, the Board of Representatives consisted of one member from each living unit, and the Judiciary Council was described as follows:
Article VI. — Judiciary Council
Sec. 1 — There shall be a Judiciary Council which shall consist of the President and Vice-President of the League, and the class representatives from the outgoing freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
Sec. 2 — The Judiciary Council shall have charge of all girls' class organizations and shall provide for the nomination by the classes of class representatives to the Judiciary Council.
Sec. 3 — The Judiciary Council shall have charge of such matters of conduct and House Regulation as shall be referred to it by the Board of Directors, the Board of Representatives, or the Dean of Women.
Sec. 4 — The Dean of Women shall be exofficioPage 1835member of the Judiciary Council.
Sec. 5 — The Judiciary Council shall elect a secretary from its own number at the first meeting after its election.
Article XIII. — Meetings
Sec. 6 — Regular meetings of the Judiciary Council shall be held during the second and fourth weeks of each month, at times and places fixed by the Council.
Article XVI. — Quorum
Sec. 3 — Three members of the Judiciary Council shall constitute a quorum.
The following year (1916) the Women's Judiciary Council presented a petition (signed by ten of the eleven sororities, all of the league houses, and the dormitories) to the Senate Committee on Student Affairs requesting that mid-week dances be abolished and that the closing hour on Friday nights be one o'clock. This action, spontaneous on the part of the women students, was a definite move toward making all-campus rules representative of student opinion. Uniform house rules were established by the Board of Representatives of the Women's League, and procedures for house government and specific rules of conduct were outlined at this time. The closing hour was set for women's residences at 10:30 P.M. during the week and 11:30 on Friday and Saturday, and in February, 1916, the Judiciary Council reported that it had "taken definite action against Sunday movies and with reference to going up the river" (canoeing on the Huron). In 1918 letters were sent to the dormitories, sororities, and league houses stating the uniform rules, and in the 1920's these were printed for general distribution. Many of the standards were stringent in comparison with the present. As late as 1926, all freshman women were required to be in their houses by 8:00 P.M., and no freshman was permitted to have an evening engagement except on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights or on a night before a University holiday. A second-semester freshman was allowed one mid-week date if she had no grade below a C.
A University Committee on Discipline was set up in 1922 to handle cases referred by the deans or those which involved students enrolled in two or more University schools or colleges. A representative of the Women's Judiciary Council was invited to attend formal meetings of this committee when cases pertaining to women students were to be discussed.
Under the Committee of Advisers to Women (1926-30; see Part II: Office of the Dean of Women), the Judiciary Council was given full authority to enforce house rules. In addition, cases of immorality, drinking, dishonesty, or insubordination were included under the jurisdiction of the Council. None of the advisers attended the sessions, but an assistant adviser worked closely with the Council, making all hearing appointments and filing reports on penalties. Cases involving a girl's removal from school were considered jointly by the Council and the Committee of Advisers; if a decision could not be reached, the case was then referred to the president of the University.
Since the work of the Council was of such a specialized nature and required more and more time on the part of its members, in 1927-28 the president and vice-president of the Women's League were relieved of this duty. In order to maintain continuity in the work, members of the Council were elected for two-year terms — two juniors to serve for two years and one additional senior who was elected every year. Nominations for these offices were approved by the Committee of Advisers to women prior to the election.
In 1932 elections to the central committees for class projects were placed under the supervision of the Women's Page 1836Judiciary Council, and in 1934 the Council was given the responsibility of making nominations for all Women's League positions. The choice was based on the merit of the applicant and on a system of petitioning and interviewing. Nominations were then referred to the appropriate body for election: to the Electoral Board for the election of officers, to the League Council (former Board of Directors) for committee appointments, and to the women students for the annual election of vice-presidents and Women's Judiciary Council members. This function was one of the Council's duties until 1946, when a separate committee was formed to interview and nominate.
In the spring of 1934 the house rules were altered in order to permit seniors to stay out on Saturday nights until 1:30 A.M. In 1940-41 freshman hours were extended to 10:30 P.M. on week nights, and copies of the house rules were mimeographed for each woman student. In 1942 the closing hour for Friday and Saturday nights was set at 12:30 A.M.
Four sophomore aides were added to the women's judiciary system in 1942-43. The aides did not attend hearings or decisions, but carried out the routine work of checking and filing. The structure of the Council was altered and its organization more clearly defined in the Women's League constitution of 1946-47. Three seniors and three juniors were chosen by the Electoral Board to serve on the Council; one senior was appointed chairman, and each of the other members was placed in charge of a campus "district" which was determined at the beginning of the year. These district chairmen worked closely with the house presidents and house directors in their districts. The district chairmen were responsible for checking reported violations and for interviewing those who broke University regulations. A sophomore judiciary aide, assigned to each district chairman, checked sign-out sheets, reported irregularities to the district chairman, and filed reports. The chairman of the Judiciary Council served as a member of the Committee on Student Conduct and of the University Sub-Committee on Discipline.
In 1948-49 the Student Legislature insisted on controlling the Women's Judiciary Council in order that a joint judiciary council could be established to handle problems involving both men and women. The Women's League, however, felt that student legislative control was not a necessary step toward this goal. After much controversy, machinery for the Joint Judiciary Council was set up to hear cases referred by the Student Legislature. Members included four men from the Men's Judiciary Council and three women from the Women's Judiciary Council.
Changes in the League constitution, in 1949-50, eliminated the Electoral Board and strengthened the Board of Representatives by making it responsible for electing the executive officers of the Women's League, the members of the Interviewing Committee, and the chairman of the Women's Judiciary Council. New rules, regulations, and policies pertaining to women students were still initiated by the Board of Representatives. The procedure for changing or adding to the house rules was as follows: (1) The proposed rule was submitted to the Women's League president who discussed the suggested change with the dean of women in order to be certain that it was in accord with University policy. (2) The proposal was placed on the agenda of the Board of Representatives who discussed the pros and cons. (3) It was then referred to the women students for a vote. (4) A three-fourths majority of all votes cast was necessary for the proposal to become a house rule.
Page 1837In the fall of 1950, the Women's Judiciary Council made a great effort to reach new students with information concerning judiciary procedures. House rules and regulations were published in an informal pamphlet entitled "Judy be Good," which was distributed by the orientation leaders. The members of the Women's Judiciary Council visited each dormitory, where they enacted a "mock trial" and explained the function of the judiciary system. In cases of serious violation, the house president of the residence where the girl lived was invited to attend the hearings. The individual house directors were given the responsibility of granting mid-week late permissions.
On December 12, 1950, the University Sub-Committee on Discipline delegated the hearing of all cases to the Joint Judiciary Council on a one-year trial basis. The Joint Judiciary Council interpreted University rules and regulations and made recommendations to the subcommittee. According to the constitution of the Joint Council, approved by the Student Affairs Committee, the Joint Council was composed of four men and four women, and the chairmanship was held alternately by the chairman of the Men's or Women's Judiciary Council.
In 1951 the president of the Women's League appointed a committee to discuss judicial procedures, and the suggestions incorporated in the committee report were adopted by the League Board of Representatives. The dean of women delegated disciplinary authority in all cases concerning women students to a combined administration and student judicial group known as the Women's Panel, composed of the dean and the chairman and one junior member of the Women's Judiciary Council. The panel investigated the facts of each major disciplinary problem and then referred the case for hearing either to the Women's Judiciary Council or to the Joint Judiciary Council. When confidential or summary action was deemed advisable, the panel itself decided the case. A woman student who was suspended could request the panel to place her on "women's probation"; this status eliminated her from participating in extracurricular activities and substituted volunteer work in a service organization for a prescribed number of hours each week.
Increasing enrollment resulted in a larger number of cases for review each year by the Women's Council. To alleviate this problem, the present decentralized judiciary system was put into practice in 1952-53. Each residence hall and sorority now has a "House Judiciary Council" which exercises jurisdiction over all minor disciplinary problems. A League House Judiciary Council composed of three permanent and two rotating members serves the same function for all the league houses. Weekly reports on violations and penalties are filed with the Women's Judiciary Council and the house director. A student who is dissatisfied with the ruling of her House Judiciary Council may appeal the case to the Women's Judiciary Council.
The co-ordination of the House Judiciary councils and the League House Judiciary Council is the responsibility of the Women's Judiciary Council. In the years since this system has been in effect, it has had the co-operation of all the women on campus and has met with great success. Each semester a workshop is conducted for the members of the House Judiciary councils and the house directors. Procedures and penalties are discussed in an attempt to bring about as much uniformity as possible in the decisions made by the various groups. Files on all decisions serve as a reference.
On June 12, 1953, the Board of Regents approved the constitution of the Joint Judiciary Council, which provided Page 1838that five men and five women members should be chosen by an interviewing board composed of the president and vice-president of the Student Legislature, the president of the Women's League, the chairman of the Interviewing and Nominating Committee, and the retiring chairman of the Joint Judiciary Council. The Sub-Committee on Discipline was to act as an appellate authority.
There has been little change in the women's judiciary system since 1953. In 1953-54 the membership of the Women's Panel was altered to include the highest-ranking member of the Joint Judiciary Council rather than a junior member of the Women's Judiciary Council; in this way, better co-operation was established between the Women's Panel, the Joint Judiciary Council, and the Women's Judiciary Council. When the Student Government Council replaced the Student Legislature in 1954-55, the judiciary system was not altered. All other changes have been procedural rather than structural.
From the beginning the women's judiciary system has been modified frequently to incorporate the best suggestions brought to the attention of the Women's League. Women at Michigan have taken very seriously the responsibility of student self-government, and co-operation with other campus organizations has been maintained in order to keep women's judiciary policies in accord with student opinion.