Bad Debt Policy Conversation

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Bad Debt Policy Conversation
October 19, 2014
Context:
“Stealing” shall mean the taking, keeping, or appropriation of the property of
another without the owner’s permission or approval. Stealing also includes the
planning of or participation in the taking, keeping, or appropriation of the
property of another without the owner’s permission or approval. Stealing may
include, without limitation, the passing of bad checks, the failure to pay
for goods or services received, the failure to pay rent, and other failures to
fulfill lawful financial obligations.
By-law change made last year to clarify an existing assumption behind the baddebt letters.
The Committee also removed the formal procedures (see handout) describing
how the VCCR should handle cases of bad-debt.
The problem:
• Bad-debt letters presume guilt
• No formal procedures govern the process
• No formal distinction between good-faith disputes and
bad-faith instances that more appropriately fit the By-law
definition of “stealing”
• May interrupt the small claims court/mediation process
Potential Solution I:
Get rid of the letters, end the practice of facilitating baddebt payments
Pros: stealing will no longer be treated differently than any other
Honor offense, solves issue with the letters entirely
Cons: no longer have a way to preserve trust between University
community and corner merchants
Potential Solution II:
Amend the By-laws to remove “failure to pay rent” and
other language from the definition of stealing.
Pros: we would not take complex rent dispute cases
Cons: there would no longer be weight behind bad-debt letters,
there are situations involving failure to pay rent that would
appropriately fall under Honor’s jurisdiction
Potential Solution III:
Institutionalize a way to differentiate between good faith
disputes and legitimate bad debt. Options:
• VCI discretion via role in determining jurisdiction
• VCCR discretion via the process outlined in the old By-laws.
• Institutionalize a separate investigation procedure as outlined in
the student proposal (see handout)
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