Interim protocol replaces non-academic discipline system as it’s set for review

The review will be overseen by Principal Woolf and address risks identified by external review

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Queen’s announced last Friday that an interim protocol will replace its current student non-academic misconduct system while an advisory committee conducts a review of the system as a whole.

Principal Daniel Woolf will oversee the review. An advisory committee will be struck that includes representatives from the University Senate, the AMS, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), University Council and the university administration. 

According to Principal Woolf, the process for the review is still being finalized, but it will include consultation with all major stakeholders, including Senate, AMS and SGPS. However, no body will have voting power other than the Board of Trustees.

“Certainly Senate has an important role to play, but ultimately responsibility for non-academic misconduct lies with the Board of Trustees,” Woolf told The Journal via email. The Board of Trustees is one of the three governing bodies for the University. 

Following the review, Woolf will bring the recommended policies and procedures to the Board of Trustees for approval no later than May 31, 2016.

“[The AMS’s Non-Academic Discipline system] will remain, but change is not optional, and the system has to evolve and be thought of in a different light given society’s expectations today,” he wrote.

Until now, cases of alleged non-academic student misconduct — such as hazing, harassment or any other violation of the Student Code of Conduct — were addressed by separate disciplinary systems.

Each of the following have their own non-academic misconduct system — AMS, Athletics & Recreation, SGPS and Queen’s Residences.

One of the key features of the new interim protocol is the establishment of a central intake office, which will be responsible for reviewing each case as they come in and referring it to the appropriate non-academic misconduct system.

The new protocol comes with the release of the Lewis Report — an advisory report from independent expert Harriet Lewis, the university secretary at York University.

In September 2014, as part of its Assessment of Internal Control Environment of the University, Queen’s Internal Audit made several recommendations to the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board of 

Trustees — one of which was an independent review of the current policies and procedures to identify any potential risks or exposures to the University.

The Lewis Report, which was presented to the Board of Trustees on May 15, identifies four risks pertaining to the current system and offers recommendations for addressing those risks.

The four risks identified were: 

  • Not addressing the 2010 recommendations from a previous review of Coroner Skinner
  • Traditions practiced at Queen’s that pose a liability to the University
  • Unclear jurisdiction of the AMS/SGPS Non-Academic Discipline system and lack of legal authority over student discipline
  • Not having competent individuals to serve in important roles in the senior administration

“In response to these recommendations, the Board, at a special meeting held on Sept. 11, directed The University to undertake a review of the current system with the aim of improving the system so that it adequately addresses issues of student health and safety,” Woolf told The Journal.

Recommendations from the Lewis Report regarding traditions are for the Board to set a “tone from the top” for the standard of behaviour expected of Queen’s students and express its support for upholding and communicating that standard throughout the Queen’s community. This includes the alumni community, particularly with respect to Queen’s traditions.

Rector Mike Young said he couldn’t say to what extent the system will change after the review, but it’s important to ensure that students are the driving force behind the revitalized system.

“The administration has heard this message loud and clear and as such, we will make sure the process moving forward has students leading the charge,” Young, ConEd ’15, told The Journal via Facebook.

Undergraduate Trustee, Jennifer Li, reiterated Young’s message of student involvement. She and Young are the only two undergraduate students who sit on the Board of Trustees.

“The review will include extensive consultations with stakeholders and we will ensure that students remain intimately involved with the process moving forward,” Li, ConEd ’17, told The Journal via Facebook.

The non-academic discipline system had been questioned previously, especially the student-run AMS NAD system.

According to a report produced for AMS Assembly on Sept. 24, Miriam Bart, AMS internal affairs commissioner, and Judicial Affairs Director Albert Kwan, worked throughout the summer to review the AMS NAD system with an emphasis on Group Non-Academic Discipline as well as the creation of surveys for respondents and complainants.

However, due to the recent announcement, all of the proposed changes will be held off until further notice.  

“It’s important to realize this is the interim protocol and there is a process moving forward to deal with how we’re going to manage the system,” AMS President Kanivanan Chinniah said. “And we expect to be involved in that system moving forward.”

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