3/8/12V.P.’s case ﬁle subject of error | Stanford Daily1/3www.stanforddaily.com/2009/12/03/v-p-s-case-ﬁle-subject-of-error-2/
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Gobaud learned of violation through clerical mishap
In an incident called “profoundly regrettable” by the vice provost for student affairs, student body president David Gobaud learned that his rpresident Jay de la Torre, faced possible suspension for a suspected Honor Code violation only after he was mistakenly handed de la Torre’sthe Judicial Affairs office, where he was serving as a panelist on another case.The claim, confirmed by top University officials and de la Torre ’10, has raised questions about how the Office of Judicial Affairs protects stcommunication between de la Torre and Gobaud ’08, M.S. ’10 before and after their election, and Gobaud’s efforts as president to encourag judicial process—efforts that he says were appropriate even after he learned that his vice president was in the Judicial Affairs process.Gobaud offered the explanation last Friday in response to questions about when he learned that his vice president was alleged to have plagiarscience class last fall—an Honor Code violation whose standard penalty is a quarter-long suspension and 40 hours of community service. Deresponsible of the violation by a Judicial Affairs panel, received the standard penalty, appealed it and was denied at a final hearing earlier thiNov. 11 meeting with student leaders and President Hennessy, and explained his suspension in a public statement the next day.“I was shocked,” Gobaud said about the day in late summer when, he said, a Judicial Affairs staff member mistakenly handed him the wronopened it and saw de la Torre’s name on the paperwork, “my jaw dropped. The person who handed it to me, it was obviously like, ‘Wait a mthink I should have this.’ She took it back.”Several top University officials have responded to the mistake that apparently tipped Gobaud off to his vice president’s case, which, like all Jpromised in the University’s 1997 student judicial charter to be kept confidential by the office.“It is clear that multiple parties made mistakes,” said University President John Hennessy in an e-mail to The Daily, although he stopped shoProvost John Etchemendy called it “a less serious mistake than if [the office] lost the file, handed it to somebody who wasn’t on a panel,” but“a serious mistake.”“I am aware that an extremely unfortunate error occurred when David, as a judicial affairs panelist, was given the wrong file in preparation f summer,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman in an e-mail to The Daily. “As you know, confidentiality in the judicial procof utmost importance, and this mistake, while clearly unintentional, is profoundly regrettable.”Gobaud has gone to lengths to explain the constraints he faced after learning about the case, noting that when he became a judicial affairs pastandard confidentiality agreement saying that “information regarding any student’s disciplinary status is not to be discussed with anyone…without the written authorization of the student.”Gobaud said that agreement meant he could only seek advice about the incident from Judicial Affairs staff members and the associate vice prJudicial Affairs, Christine Griffith. Griffith told The Daily that panelists are expected to take their concerns to office staff. Gobaud said he beliissue to any other administrators.The day he saw the case file, Gobaud said, “Jay and I talked, and he told me about his case.”“David sat down with me because he was suspicious something was up, and I told him about my situation,” de la Torre said in an e-mail to Tthen started planning a transition for after de la Torre’s resignation, which took place some two months later.“[Gobaud] was a good friend and respected my privacy, so he didn’t discuss the situation with anyone I wasn’t comfortable sharing it with,”maintains he would have faced a Fundamental Standard violation charge if he told anyone else about the case.
Griffith sat down with The Daily and acknowledged that the mistake has prompted a review of confidentiality protocol in the Office of Judici“I think given the weight of that responsibility that we feel in terms of confidentiality—that’s the highest charge we have in the office, no quhow seriously we take that responsibility, sure, it’s huge when there’s a human error.”She described the review process prompted by this summer’s incident, the likes of which have never, to her knowledge, happened before.“We review what our protocols are, we try to determine, are there ways we can implement better protocols? And then we just reiterate the nebe as committed to that part of our work as we always have been,” Griffith said.She said there have been no major protocol changes, but two practices have been reemphasized. One is requiring panelists to sign a confidenGobaud did.“The fact that they agree when they volunteer to serve in this capacity to keep all information confidential is a big part of what we do,” GriffiThe second practice is the electronic document system the office switched to earlier this summer, which allows panelists to access case filessaid the system “serves us well.” Panelists can still request hard copies of case files, as Gobaud did for the case file he was supposed to pickJamie Pontius-Hogan, a judicial adviser who works in the office, explained the protocol for picking up file in person.“We provided a kind of sealed envelope and they [the panelist] would walk into the front desk,” she said. “The person sitting at the front desneed to see your ID,’ and they’d sign the little sign-out form and sign out the form and take the packet.”Despite the fact that someone apparently gave Gobaud the wrong case file that day, Griffith said she is confident about efforts to protect stud
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