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University Student Judicial Affairs

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Georgia

At the university I go to, in the spring semester of this year, I was recently charged and found guilty of "Theft of property or services." Theft here is defined as "keeping in one's possession items of stolen or mislaid property." I plead "not guilty" to the charge.

The following is what happened and is essentially what I told the person who heard my case. I went to the library close to 8:00 PM to meet a student for tutoring. It wasn't yet 8:00 PM, so I went to the back of the library to read (I don't like distractions while reading). The desk I usually sit at had 3 books on it. The barcode stickers and other stickers that identified it as part of the library were missing (the stickers were taken off, since there was paper from the stickers still on the books). I noticed that all three books dealt with a subject of my academic research. At that point, I considered taking them home with me, since I was only a few weeks away from summer vacation and I had no other way of continuing my research, urgent research because I was after a scholarship (I know that this does not justify such consideration of taking them). I put the books in my bookbag to decide later. At 8:00 PM I went to the front of the library to wait for the student. She came, and I tutored her. When we were done, we got up to leave. I wanted to walk her to her car (I am a male), so I followed her to the library exit. By then, I had forgotten about the books. At the exit there are detectors which were set off by the books (apparently there was a second barcode). I was called to the front desk where I gave the books to the librarian along with my student ID which she asked for to notify Student Judicial Affairs. I was then allowed to leave the library.

The outcome letter, which states my punishments (since I was found gulity), includes the following.

It is clear to me that you intended to take the books from the library and that you had them in your possession when you left the building. It is also clear to me that you consider what you did to be acceptable and that you do not seem to have the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

The University can not tolerate student who take belongings that do not belong to them and we certainly can not allow students to continue as a student here if they can not distinguish what is right from what is wrong.

I am therefore suspending you from the University for one academic year effective immediately and extending through May 2006. I am however going to hold this suspension in abeyance and allow you to remain enrolled provided the following provisions are met.

1. I am requiring that you receive counseling from a counselor in the Student Development Center. We will make an appointment today for your initial intake session. After that you will continue for as long as the counselor feels there is a need. Failure to meet any scheduled appointment or failure to abide by any recommendation made by your counselor will be grounds for immediate suspension.

2. I am requiring that you meet with me once a week for 10 weeks starting next week and continuing for the next 10 weeks of your enrollment. Consider me your "probation officer."

Following the end of your "suspension" you will remain on Disciplinary Probation for an additional academic year. Disciplinary probation is a stern warning that future violations of the student conduct code could result in your suspension.

I found several aspects of the letter ridiculous. In about 15 minutes, she established intent (probably because I have a prior for computer misuse) and that I consider what I did to be acceptable and do not seem to be able to distinguish right from wrong. She also states that I had the books in my possession when I left the building, which I did not and which is the reason why I plead "not guilty" to theft (also since I did not intend to head to the door with them, but she didn't believe that).

I would like to know what everyone thinks about this. More specifically, I want to know if you agree with the person who heard the case and wrote the letter and if you think I should have been charged and found guilty of theft.

Any thoughts are deeply appreciated.

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