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Debaters face judicial review

Karo Chakhlasyan
Arts Editor

Five members of the University of La Verne’s decorated debate team are awaiting the results of a University judicial review after they were pulled over last Thursday for speeding, and a student driver was charged with driving under the influence while on the way to a debate tournament at UC Davis.

At roughly 11:30 p.m, on Nov. 29, senior psychology major Matthew Harvis was detained and charged with “driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, possession of marijuana while driving, and an open container violation,” according to the arrest report at the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, where Harvis was taken. The other debaters in the car apparently were dropped off at a Denny’s in Bakersfield.

Harvis said he was held by police for roughly 17 hours.

“The vast majority of the team made it to Davis after the incident,” said ULV Debate Coach John Patrick.

Patrick would not confirm the names of the other debaters in the car.

Patrick, also an adjunct professor of speech communications, and Director of Forensics Rob Ruiz found about the incident after receiving a phone call about students being detained.

“We both sort of sat there in disbelief,” Patrick said. “This isn’t ideal. We were upset, we made some decisions about who we needed to talk and who we needed to get advice from … We’re going through the official processes.”

Because the incident occurred traveling to an official team event, it is now under judicial review.

The judicial review panel, made up of students, faculty and administration, will determine the students’ punishment.

“If its considered severe enough … the sanctions could be … removal from living on campus, suspension from the University,” said Juan Regalado, assistant dean of student affairs, director of student housing and a member of the judicial review committee.

The group of students were driving alone with no supervision by staff or faculty members because the tournament was in California, Patrick said.

“For every tournament that I’ve ever been in charge of, everyone has made it there safely,” Patrick said. “This is the only incident that I could remember, so it’s just an outlier.”

Travel policy changes are going to be made, Patrick added.

“We’re probably not going to be able to feel comfortable from our standpoint sending students on their own in the future,” Patrick said.

When students violate University policies while off campus, “there’s a lot of grey in between,” Regalado said. “As much as we want it to be black-and-white, that’s not always the case. We try to take people’s situation into account but we have to be consistent.”

“If judicial review shows that something happened, I’m sure that the University has policies in place (to) address those issues in the appropriate way,” Patrick said.

The debate team is part of the speech communications program. Speech communication department chair Ian Lising could not be reached by press time. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Johathan Reed declined to comment.

Brian Velez contributed to this story.

Karo Chakhlasyan can be reached at karo.chakhlasyan@laverne.edu.

Despite Thursday’s events, the debate team came out on top, taking first place in the UC Davis tournament last weekend. Of four two-person teams to make it to the final round, two were from ULV. ULV debaters Carl Decker and Sam French took first place in the tournament.

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