Senate modifies policy on student withdrawals & non-academic misconduct

University District

Senate’s previous role in NAM unclear

Credit: 
Journal file photo

At the Nov. 1 meeting of the Queen’s Senate, policy surrounding the governing body’s involvement within non-academic misconduct was formally revised and passed. This policy dictates the response to any student caught violating the Student Code of Conduct.

The alteration was slight, and came through the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee.

Whereas previously, Senate had the explicit authority and responsibility to approve policy and procedures for academic and non-academic matters through the Senate Committee on Non-Academic Discipline (SONAD), Senate no longer has jurisdiction over maters of student non-academic misconduct (NAM).

Originally, Senate Function 10 read as follows:

Senate has the authority to approve policies and procedures regarding student academic and non-academic matters. The authority to discipline students, including the power to require a student to withdraw from the University, resides with the Senate; responsibility for non-academic discipline of students may be delegated to student organizations.”

With the new revision, the document reads: “Senate has the authority to approve policies and procedures regarding student academic matters, and to discipline students with respect to departures from academic integrity, including the power to require a student to withdraw from the university. Senate maintains a concern for matters of student non-academic misconduct and participates in the Board of Trustee’s governance of non-academic misconduct discipline structures”.

The discussion on non-academic misconduct and the administration’s role dates back to 2015, when the Advisory Committee on Non-Academic Misconduct (ACNAM) was formed by Principal Daniel Woolf in order to address recommendations regarding a review of the NAM system.

Documented in the minutes from the SONAD’s Nov. 9, 2015 meeting, Senate members stated their concerns about Senate’s role within the NAM system. 

It may be appropriate for Senate to continue to have a role in the systems, especially with respect to the student Code of Conduct, in that Senate could approve the Code pending ratification by the Board, and review the Code every three to five years,” the minutes read. 

At SONAD’s March 29, 2016 meeting, it was discussed that Senate would still play a part in NAM but would not be involved to the extent that they have been in the past.

“The opinions gathered over the course of last summer made clear that responsibility for student non-academic misconduct lies with the Board of Trustees,” the minutes stated. It was then proposed that the Board create a Sub-Committee on Student Non-Academic Misconduct that would oversee the NAM system from governance perspective.

During this process, the University sought legal opinion from Canadian lawyer Michel Bastarache on the legal framework of the NAM system.

In a report he wrote to Senate on Sept. 27 of this year, he states that “the Board of Trustees has always held, and continues to hold, primary jurisdiction over student non-academic misconduct.” 

Following this report, in a meeting of the Senate, another one of Bastarache’s recommendations was carried out, and SONAD was dissolved.

Responsibilities for NAM were left to the newly-created Central Intake Office for non-academic misconduct cases, a revised student code of conduct, and a subcommittee of the Board’s Audit and Risk Committee.

According to Senate reports and meetings over the past year on the NAM system, Senate hasn’t had authority over the student non-academic misconduct system.

According to an email to The Journal from Secretary of the University and Corporate Counsel, Lon Knox, “while Senate previously managed the discipline systems for both academic and non-academic matters, the Senate held ultimate responsibility in respect of a requirement to withdraw from studies in appropriate cases under either system. That authority now resides with the Provost under Section 81 of the interim procedures under the Student Code of Conduct.”  

When The Journal asked Knox about the confusion regarding Senate’s authority, he responded that the amendment to the language of Function 10 was to reflect the changes in the revised NAM system and Student Code of Conduct.

AMS President Tyler Lively, when asked about the change, said that “this is kind of just a housekeeping exercise to reflect what’s been practiced for a little while now.” 

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