SJC chair reinforces awareness of drunk driving consequences

The Phi spoke with Sara Jones, ‘18, to hear about her priorities as SJC chair in the coming year

Rachel Hicks

Chair of the Student Judicial Council Sara Jones said this year is about getting to know the student body.

The SJC was created by faculty at Washington and Lee to promote an understanding of individual responsibility. The SJC handles incidents of alleged student misconduct, excluding dishonorable acts, which instead fall under the jurisdiction of the Executive Committee. Incidents of drunk driving or violence, for example, would be handled by the SJC.

The Phi sat down to talk with Jones about her second year on the SJC and her plans as a campus leader.

Q: What is the culture of the SJC like compared to past councils?

Currently, we have a young SJC. Four out of our 10 members are new this year. Dean Tammi Simpson is our advisor this year, and that’s also new.

Q: Do you feel like the student body is connected to the SJC?

That’s actually one of my goals for this year. I want to be more present in students’ lives. Meeting with underrepresented student organizations is something I also want to do more of. Our power comes from Student Affairs, so I talk a lot with them. But I want to branch out and get more involved with more groups.

Q: Do you feel there has been genuine progress made in decreasing apathy toward drunk driving?

Two years ago, we had five DUIs. Last year, we had zero. This year, we’ve already had one. My goal is to go to sororities and fraternities and remind students of the consequences that come with getting a DUI. First-Year [students] get a lot of reminders about the dangers of drunk driving during orientation. But the warnings may have worn off for many juniors and seniors. The rules change when people turn 21. You are allowed to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08. For me, I know I can drink two beers and still drive. But I’ve tested that. Take time to figure out what your drinking limit is to drive as an adult. And those who are underage cannot drink at all and drive.

There are real, life-long consequences for getting a DUI. It goes on your record, and you may have difficulty getting a job. It’s important to remember that the Lexington police are hyper-aware of drunk driving students. It’s a small town, and not much is going on, so their eyes are always open. They won’t pull you over for drunk driving. They’ll pull you over for a busted taillight or forgetting to use your turn signal to change lanes. It’s important to know what the rules are, so when you break them, you know the consequences.

Q: What are some points about drunk driving that you plan to bring up at Greek house meetings?

The police recently received federal grant money specifically for DUIs. You’re on your honor when you get pulled over. If they ask you if you’ve been drinking, remember you’re held responsible by the honor system. The consequence for getting a DUI at W&L is suspension for a semester. If you feel like you can drive after drinking, think again. It’s not about how you feel. If you get pulled over, you’re just lucky no one’s dead.

Q: Are there any interesting facts about this year’s SJC?

Actually, this year, we are half women, which is a big deal. Last year, we had three women and seven men. This year, it’s five and five.