Robert Heath is a Student Panel Member, responsible for sitting on College committees to provide a student perspective on hearings including appeals, misconduct, fitness to practice and complaints.
What does the role of Student Panel Member entail?
Being a Student Panel Member involves sitting on what the College calls ‘committees’. These are formed on an ad hoc basis to hear cases or appeals concerning misconduct and, more rarely, appeals of results. The committee comprises a panel made up of three members of academic staff and one student. Each panel member reviews evidence prior to the committee date, considers oral evidence and asks questions of both the student and College representative, before finally discussing in private the outcome which best applies the relevant policies to the facts as presented. The decision is usually reached by consensus, however if different views persist majority voting is required, with the Panel Chair’s vote counting as two.
How did you get involved?
I recall thinking that it sounded like an interesting opportunity that I believed I could be good at. As a law student I felt that I would be able to contribute in a meaningful way, although obviously students of any discipline can be equally capable at the role as any law student.
What do you enjoy about volunteering in this role?
I enjoy digging into the evidence and asking relevant questions. In nearly every case, the student who is sitting across the table from you is at a very important crossroads in their academic career, and equally the interests of the College are highly relevant. In these circumstances I enjoy the accountability that is expected of you as a student panel member.
What have you learnt from your time volunteering?
I have learnt a good deal about biases and what ‘unbiased’ decision-making means in practice. It is a misconception that the key to such decision-making is to have no biases at all; rather, it is about recognising your own biases so that you can understand how they might be affecting your perspective. Thinking about thinking does not need to be limited to philosophers, it can be practical for all of us.
What would you say to anyone thinking of taking part in volunteering?
I would say that if you think it sounds interesting to you then do it. The time commitment depends on how much you want to sign up for, so why not give it a shot?
To find out more about becoming a Student Panel Member click here.
To nominate a student for volunteer of the month click here.