Judicial branch about understanding students’ choices, not punishment, SGA attorney general says

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Photo courtesy of Peter Moyer.

The three branches of Student Governing Association — executive, judicial and legislative — all play a different role in regulating what happens on campus. One of the many students that has a hand in the governing body is attorney general Peter Moyer, junior in political science and economics.

Moyer said neither of his parents attended Kansas State, but he came to school in Manhattan because of how well the College of Business Administration recruits students.

“During my freshman year, I switched out of business because I realized I really didn’t want to do that at all,” Moyer said.

After taking a course about government in high school, Moyer said he began to feel more interested in the judicial side of government.

Moyer said his affinity for the branch in the United States government led him to put a poster of the first African American justice on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, on his wall, finding membership with his poster of Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” President John F. Kennedy and civil rights activist William Kunstler.

“I was really reading a bunch of like civil liberty stuff and feeling really impassioned about constitutional law,” Moyer said. “I mellowed a lot from that, but judicial seemed like the right avenue to go from that energy.”

As far as the judicial branch in SGA, Moyer said most of the cases they see on Thursday nights are instances of students drinking and misbehaving at tailgates. Since they don’t have any jurisdiction off campus, the student tribunal doesn’t hear cases involving fraternities or sororities, for example.

Moyer, who is a pre-law student, said he got involved in SGA partially because he was “an average student in high school” and it was the first thing he came across on campus, but also because he thought it would be about law.

“I read ‘In our Defense’ written by [JFK’s] daughter when she was in law school, which is about civil liberties, and I thought judicial would be more like that,” he said. “It’s not legalistic at all; people confuse that. But that’s what drew me to it — I thought it would be more law-based.”

In Kansas, the state judiciary and the K-State judicial branch operate quite differently. Moyer said at K-State, the process is exhibited and, of course, run by students. The “by students, for students” motto that comes with SGA, Moyer said, helps the tribunal understand the people being reviewed by the tribunal. Students can understand the thorough process behind a decision a student being reviewed made, Moyer said.

“As students we have standards we want upheld for other students,” Moyer said. “There’s a behavior we all agree is unacceptable, like if you’re going to tailgates and getting into fights, you’d want [someone] at K-State to have a conversation with them, try to understand why that behavior exists and find appropriate sanction. Not to punish them for it, but just to mitigate that behavior and find new avenues for them.”

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Hi there! I’m Julie Freijat, a staff writer at the Collegian. I’m a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communications; I believe accessible and accurate information is critical for a healthy society. I love insects, I hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.