Non-academic discipline needs clarification

Last week, the AMS and SGPS each presented draft reports of their preliminary recommendations on the non-academic discipline system to the University Senate. They were mandated to do so by the Principal’s Task Force on Community Relations which had recommended “strengthening the mandate and resources of AMS and SGPS for addressing non-academic discipline with a focus on off-campus student behaviour.” The SGPS raised concerns at the meeting as to the scope of the Code of Conduct. As it stands, the Code of Conduct could potentially be applied to discipline a Queen’s student who breaches the Code anywhere in the world. The boundaries of the Code of Conduct should be clarified and reinforced during the welcoming ceremony, even before students sign on the dotted line to confirm their acceptance to Queen’s, and thus their agreement to abide by the Code of Conduct.

SGPS President Dave Thomas also suggested that undergraduate students are being held to a lower standard of lawfulness by the Kingston Police because officers believe students should be disciplined under the Code of Conduct instead of the law. The purpose of non-academic discipline, however, is not to replace legal consequences, but rather to complement the legal system.

The SGPS should recognize that, if the problem they indicate does exist, it has less to do with the University’s system of non-academic discipline, and more to do with the perspective and conduct of police. Perhaps in addition to informing students about the Code of Conduct, the University should also make the police aware of the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct, stressing the complementary purpose of the Code and emphasizing that it does not replace any legal consequences students who break the law should face.

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