Draft code needs clarification

Proposals to change the Queen’s Code of Conduct expand the one-page document to seven and include clauses with more explicit definitions of non-academic disobedience and its repercussions. The University unveiled its draft this summer, and is collecting feedback on it.

The code must be adhered to by every Queen’s student and stipulates acceptable student behaviour both on and off campus. The proposed changes attempt to clearly delineate what civil acts of disobedience are punishable under the code and require review by the Queen’s Judicial Committee (JComm).

The draft has come under fire from student groups who claim clauses forbidding “unauthorized conduct likely to limit the lawful rights of others to possess, use, or enjoy private or University property” and “disorderly or disruptive conduct that interferes with the lawful activity of others” would infringe on students’ rights. Specifically, the group’s website, which has dubbed the draft code the Queen’s “Patriot Act,” claims these clauses would “criminalize acts of civil disobedience at Queen’s.”

It’s commendable that students are taking an active role by speaking out regarding a document that affects them directly. It’s regrettable, however, that this protest is so poorly informed: the University has no power to “criminalize” anything, and Canadian citizens have no “right” to civil disobedience—the terms itself implies its contravention of the law.

What is problematic about the draft code, however, is its vagueness: it’s not clear when these clauses are in effect. The draft states only that they apply “to all conduct by a student that has a rational and substantive connection to the University, University activities, the University community, or University-related functions, whether or not the conduct occurred on University property.” It extends its jurisdiction outside of activities strictly within the academic calendar—activities that include post-exam partying and international exchanges. Misbehaving former students can even have their degrees rescinded.Clarification is needed as to exactly what circumstances the code applies.

Thorough understanding of the code’s draft is crucial to taking a stance on it. At the same time, it’s difficult to fully grasp its terms when so many of its clauses are ambiguous. The code’s drafters should clarify their terms of agreement and ensure they’re applied consistently.

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