While the AMS’s non-academic discipline (NAD) system handled 29 cases between May and October last year, only three have been processed during that same period this year.
This discrepancy between cases was the largest of any NAD system at the university, according to the committee on non-academic discipline’s (SONAD) 2014-15 annual reports. SONAD released reports from each of its four systems — AMS, Athletics and Recreation, Residence and SGPS — at the most recent meeting of Senate on Nov. 3.
Senate is one of the University’s three governing bodies. (The agenda can be found here)
The entire NAD system is currently under review by a Board of Trustees committee chaired by Principal Woolf. While the review is underway, an interim protocol has been established to deal with non-academic discipline.
The four reports allow the university to compare this year’s results under the current interim protocol to last year’s numbers under the previous system.
“It is an abnormally low number,” Albert Kwan, the AMS judicial affairs director, said of the number of cases handled by the AMS.
According to Kwan, the decrease was caused by the new interim protocol, which refers cases — such as the failure to comply with campus authorities and incidents involving alcohol — to the Provost’s Office by classifying them as “university level non-academic misconduct”.
The new interim protocol implemented earlier this year has a central intake body that receives all complaints and then distributes cases to the appropriate system. In previous years, complaints would come directly from bodies such as Campus Security or Student constables to the individual NAD systems. If they deemed it a university level offence, they would pass it along to the provost’s office.
“It is a marked change this year, where there are a number of cases that we no longer handle that are handled exclusively by the provost’s office,” Kwan said.
In 2014-15, incidents involving alcohol misuse made up the highest percentage (25 per cent) of cases for the AMS, followed by trespassing (24 per cent), failure to comply with university alcohol regulations (13 per cent) and non-compliance with university officials (12 per cent), according to the report.
In terms of the total number and severity of cases handled, however, Kwan said he considers the past year to have been a relatively standard year.
“The system has been very effective over time where recidivism has remained very low,” he said. Recidivism refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behaviour.
“One factor in that low recidivism rate, or probably the main factor, actually is the fact that it’s students administering the system.”
Kwan added that two numbers increased from previous years — the use of educational sanctions and trigger bonds. Trigger bonds refer to a fine that is only triggered if the accused student reoffends.
“Besides that, it’s been very consistent in that the system has been very effective in dealing with these complaints.”
Most of the cases — 58 per cent of the 78 total for the AMS — were received by Campus Security, as is typical from previous years.
Kwan said there was also an unusual increase in the number of trespassing cases this past year — which made up 24 per cent of cases in 2014-15 and has been as low as 2 per cent in the past five years — but said trends like these tend to fluctuate from year to year.
“It’s difficult to say whether the increased numbers is representative of any particular trend in terms of what’s actually happening, maybe they’re just being identified more effectively.”
A major case reported last year was the assault of a Lazy Scholar staff member by a student.
Initial sanctions — $150 bond, a three-page essay, 30-month ban from the Lazy Scholar and an HCDS Alcohol Workshop — weren’t completed by the accused, which resulted in a $325 dollar fine.
“The sanctions reflect the severity of that case, and I think we tried our best to decide on sanctions that would prevent from further harm to the person in question.”
The case has now been closed, but Kwan said that there’s more to think about following the final result of the case.
“There are some other practices that we might need to look at in terms of how best to enforce our sanctions, and how to best ensure that they are as effective as possible.”
The other systems reported similarly standard stats as previous years. Athletics and Recreation reported only three ongoing cases during 2014-15 in which varsity teams violated student-athlete guidelines. Two teams completed their probation over the 2014-15 season, while the third completed their probation in the 2015-16 season.
SGPS only recorded one incident between May 1, 2014 and Oct. 5, 2015. The case ended in a tri-pub ban for the SGPS member involved.
As for Residence, 2,670 students of the 4,210 in residence last year were never found responsible of any misconduct. 21 per cent of students were found responsible of only one incident, and 16 per cent of more than one.
“If there’s one thing that comes out of this report, and I guess reports in [the] past, it’s that our system has been effective, and again it stems from student authority in deciding what sanctions are included,” Kwan said.
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