JComm process frustrates students

In Tuesday’s issue, the Journal reported that on Nov. 9, Eric Orava, ArtSci ’07, was involved in an altercation at Alfie’s with John Doe, another student whose name has been changed because he settled in a private hearing with the AMS Judicial Committee.

Orava said he tried to press charges against Doe but the police didn’t want to do anything, citing a lack
of evidence.

Const. Brian Cookman said police investigated the incident and decided not to press charges.

“Independent witnesses advised it was consensual,” he said, adding that as far as he knows, neither participant in the fight approached the police with a complaint afterwards. Orava, a StuCon who was
off-duty that night, said the incident left him dealing with panic attacks, and worrying about financial difficulty. He has been unable to work because he’s banned from campus pubs. aMS Judicial Committee Chief Prosecutor Jenn Mansell said both individuals received manager’s bans from on-campus pubs until JComm decided on their sanctions.

“[The managers] said if JComm decided to not ban them, they’d lift the ban. If JComm decided to ban them, it’d be a JComm ban for as long as the JComm delineates it for,” she said. Doe said nobody told him about the manager’s ban against him. “Two weeks [after the fight], I had a ticket to go to Queen’s
Players and I show up at the door and a StuCon informs me that a pub ban has been levied on me and I can’t go into Players,” he said, adding that the interim ban is still in effect.

Orava said the ban levied against him wasn’t on record, but that he was notified by his StuCon manager that he was on a manager’s ban. He said he was told the day after the incident that he would have to go off work until the affair was resolved through the non-academic discipline system.

Mansell met with both individuals to negotiate a settlement. She originally proposed Doe pay a bond of $200 and Orava a bond of $200 and a fine of $150. after meeting with Orava, she decided that both students should pay a bond and a fine to settle their case. Doe was satisfied with the proposed settlement, but Orava was not, leading to a public hearing for his case on Feb. 1.

Following that hearing, JComm decided to rescind Orava’s bond and fine. His tri-pub ban was also lifted and he could go back to work. Orava said despite the outcome, he Doesn’t think his case was
handled well. “In theory, I agree with having [the aMS non-academic discipline system] there if there
was an altercation, a consensual fight between two people, I think it’s a very good way of having the students reprimand them,” he said. “The situation, I think, was just not dealt with properly by the prosecutor.” Orava said he raised concerns of conflict of interest when he met with Mansell, because he
heard members of JComm were acquaintances or friends with Doe.

“That was never dealt with, especially when I brought it up with [Mansell],” he said, adding that he also thought it was a conflict of interest that she spoke to Doe first, which Orava said put him on the defensive throughout the process. “It was like, OK, you spoke to the guilty party first and got their story and then from there on in, I was supposed to try and prove my story against his, which was
completely unfair.”

Mansell said Orava never raised his concerns to her. Laura Brazil, JComm chair, said members of the committee are given an opportunity to voice conflicts of interest before they hear a case.

in this situation, she said, no one stated a conflict with either individual.

“Obviously there’s going to be some overlap but we kind of have, like, a litmus test of, ‘Would you feel emotionally attached to the outcome of this case? How often do you see this person?’ “We’re really careful about conflicts of interest because of the size of Queen’s,” she said. Doe said that although he
thought the final sanctions imposed were restorative, he’s not satisfied with how the judicial process panned out. “It’s February … and from my end, it’s still not resolved,” he said. “a judicial system is supposed to be working in a timely manner. This is, you know, as far from timely as you can get.”

Although Doe said he Doesn’t dispute the facts of the fight as presented by the prosecutor’s office, the fact that no one can really attest to the beginning of the fight concerns him. “The only testament to the
beginning of the fight, I believe, would have been the e-mail from [Orava’s] friend,” he said, adding that he’s sure the content was biased. Doe said he gave Mansell two individuals to contact to get his side of the story. “Jenn never contacted [them], so I never had a chance to give any testament other than my own,” he said. Mansell said she contacted both his witnesses, but they were deemed non-credible because she couldn’t verify if they were sober or weren’t colluding with either individual.

She said she still presented Orava’s friend’s letter because she explained the relationship between Orava and his witness to the committee. “I explicitly said, ‘This is an individual who is his friend. I am
therefore presenting you with all the investigatory information I have, but she’s not admissible in my opinion,’ ” she said. JComm ruled against any sanctions to be imposed on Orava because of a lack of credible witnesses at the beginning of the fight. “according to the Prosecutor’s Office, no TaPS staff, Student Constables or other credible witnesses observed the beginning of the fight,” Brazil wrote in the
official JComm decision statement released Monday. Doe said his experience causes him to be concerned about the aMS peer judicial system as a whole, especially because his tri-pub ban continues while Orava faces no sanctions. “There’s really been no mechanisms for me to appeal
anything that anybody’s been saying,” he said. “Nobody’s really giving me any answers or any reasoning, and the only thing that continues is that i’m banned from the Queen’s Pub.”

He said he Doesn’t understandwhy the situation has been drawn out so long and Doesn’t think the current situation exemplifies the restorative justice JComm claims to achieve. “What’s it restoring? What’s it harmonizing? it’s creating a heck of a lot of frustration on my part and a whole lot of relief on [Orava’s] part,” he said. “I’m just really confused because what i’m being whispered in one ear is not what i’m being told outright in the other, or is being played out in reality.” Doe said he Doesn’t understand how JComm came to a deliberation releasing Orava from any sanctions based on the lack of evidence surrounding the actual fight. “It’s been stretched out as long as it could be stretched out with as little consequence or restoration as possible.”

Orava agreed the judicial process has gone on for too long. “It should have been one statement, an offer, and then [the hearing] in the span of, like, a week,” he said.

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