The Office of Judicial Affairs has a new face in the area of off-campus relations.
Kendra Sims has filled the position of program coordinator for judicial affairs, a job created in August in response to the increased number of legal conflicts involving students living and partying off campus this semester, administrators said.
"Our hope is that we can in some way influence the off-campus climate in a positive way by having a position that focuses a bit more on problems there," said Sue Wasiolek, assistant vice president for students affairs and dean of students.
Sims, who began work Oct. 3, has the task of fielding complaints from neighbors and other individuals off-campus regarding students' disruptive behaviors.
But Sims emphasized that her work will not be entirely reactionary. "I hope to serve as a resource for students who live off campus, to point them in the right direction if they have questions or concerns," she said.
Wasiolek cited the extension of Duke University Police Department's jurisdiction beyond campus walls in recent years as one motivating factor in the creation of Sims' position.
"We have committed to following up on each and every off-campus incident involving students and potentially taking disciplinary action against students who are cited," Wasiolek said.
Sims said thus far she has been occupied with processing the citations issued by ALE since August.
"Right now I'm just getting caught up with all the off-campus incidents that happened prior to my arrival," she said.
Sims added that her job description will continue to evolve and will not be limited solely to alcohol- and noise-related complaints. "Ideally my position will be to help deal with judicial incidents across campus, not just off campus, though that is indeed a target area," she said. "I also hope to work closely with the Community Affairs Office to help address concerns of the community."
Josh Parker, a Durham resident and community activist, said the new judicial affairs position was a welcome development but also served to highlight the current rift between students and the local community.
"It shouldn't be all that we do, and I worry that the position might characterize the relations between students and the community as only needing judicial affairs people," he said
A more vibrant on-campus social scene may reduce conflict between neighbors and students, Parker added.
"Students and folks in the community really want the same thing-a social scene on campus," Parker said. "The administration needs to address that."
Before coming to Duke, Sims worked as assistant director of resident life and judicial affairs at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Penn. She had previously worked as a child and adolescent therapist in Pittsburgh-area schools.
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