Policy to impose sanctions on student groups

Judicial Affairs Office looks at “unclear” Non-Academic Discipline system

From left: Appolonia Karetos, the Judicial Affairs Director, Thomas Pritchard, Vice-President of University Affairs, and Kristen Olver, the Internal Affairs Commissioner.
From left: Appolonia Karetos, the Judicial Affairs Director, Thomas Pritchard, Vice-President of University Affairs, and Kristen Olver, the Internal Affairs Commissioner.

The AMS is drafting a policy that will allow it to sanction entire student organizations as part of its Non-Academic Discipline (NAD) system.

Under the new policy, the AMS Judicial Committee will be able to apply sanctions to the members of a student group if they believe they have caused harm to the Queen’s community.

The policy was introduced to AMS Assembly last Thursday by Kristen Olver, the commissioner of internal affairs, who announced it will be coming to Assembly for ratification later this term.

Olver said the policy will be complaint-based, like individual cases, so an individual must bring a complaint about the group to the commission before action is taken.

“This process has been in the works for 10 years,” she said. “We find that now is the best time to bring it to fruition.” Liam Faught, last year’s Commissioner of Internal Affairs, had presented the policy to the Judicial Committee as early as February last year.

Olver and Apollonia Karetos, the judicial affairs director, brought the issue to the President’s Caucus this summer, and worked with them while writing the policy, Olver said.

Olver said the sanctions given to groups won’t be as harsh as those given to an individual.”It could be recommended that an individual is suspended, but that is never something that would apply to a group,” she said.

She said the sanctions, which include fines and community service, will be flexible and highly case specific.

It will be up to the discretion of the Judicial Committee to decide which sanctions are appropriate for each case, she added.

Tyler Lively, the campus coordinator for Queen’s Students for Liberty (QSFL), said he disagrees with the policy on the grounds that it ignores the individuality of students.

“It discounts the fact that everyone has their own free will and we as individuals can, and do, make choices as individuals,” he said.

QSFL was responsible for the Free Speech Wall, which was taken down by the University last April due to racial slurs written on it after it had been erected in the JDUC.

According to Lively, his group consulted a lawyer after the incident, who told them the AMS violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by removing the wall.

He said the new policy will be used against his group and other groups like his, if they hold a similar event in the future.

“To punish the entire group for something like that is to discount the fact that we’re not inviting people to come and say hateful things on the board,” he said.

Lively said the policy will disadvantage minority opinions on campus.

“It definitely targets any group that doesn’t necessarily agree with the majority opinion,” he said. “The majority can’t just will away the rights of the minority.”

Thomas Pritchard, AMS vice-president of University Affairs, said there is no connection between the Free Speech Wall and the group discipline policy.

“The former executive was looking into it quite a bit last year prior to that incident, so they’re completely unrelated,” he said.

He said Queen’s administration discussed the policy last year, which led the AMS to draft it with the knowledge they had support from the administration.

The policy is designed to shore up gaps in judicial procedures, he said, which were unclear previously.

“Previously when a group needed to be sanctioned, they couldn’t because we didn’t have a procedure,” he said.

According to Pritchard, this is the last step towards finalizing judicial affairs policy.

The only thing left, he said, is to build a database for storing the cases from each of the four judicial committees on campus.

“There might be a way to build an extremely confidential database just to make sure cases aren’t slipping through the cracks,” he said.

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