Student Affairs undermine NAD

The AMS is concerned that the University is encroaching on the mandate of the student-run Non-Academic Discipline system (NAD) at Queen’s.

Last week, it was revealed that several students received emails from the Student Affairs office, requesting meetings to discuss something that was left unstated. The AMS advised students to be wary of these emails and to keep in mind that they're not required to meet with Student Affairs under such circumstances.

It turned out, according to the AMS, that the emails were part of a Student Affairs “fact finding” process that was initiated after the administration received reports of a hazing incident that took place earlier in the year.

According to Queen’s Provost Alan Harrison, “if and when reports concerning health and safety are made directly to a university department or office, the university has an obligation to gather information where possible on the report and determine what follow up, if any, is required on the part of the university.”

While it's understandable that the administration is concerned about student well-being, there's no reason that this concern should undermine established and effective student-run processes.

NAD is unique in North America and has continued for over 100 years because of its effectiveness. The process rests on the laudable principle that someone is best judged by their peers rather than a bureaucratized hierarchy.

The students who run NAD get invaluable experience and take their mandate seriously, just like those who operate Queen’s other student-run organizations and bodies. If this experience is going to be diluted by actions like those undertaken by Student Affairs, then the administration should clearly and publicly justify them.

In Sept. 2012, Principal Woolf signed an agreement securing the responsibilities of NAD as a peer-run judicial system. Moreover, according to AMS Vice-President of University Affairs Thomas Pritchard, NAD has already handled situations where “student health and wellness” was at risk.

Despite officially endorsing NAD’s responsibilities, the administration seems content to undermine them. They claim there's a substantive difference between the “fact finding” process they are conducting and an “investigation” in which they'd have to involve the AMS. Needless to say, this is a distinction without discernible difference.

If the administration thinks that NAD is somehow deficient then they should say so, rather than acting in an ambiguous and underhanded manner. Queen’s prides itself on effective student-run organizations, bodies and systems like NAD, but this pride is meaningless if students aren't shouldering the responsibilities involved.

-Journal Editoral Board

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