AMS Assembly Recap — Oct. 22

Principal Woolf opens the floor for NAD discussion

Credit: 
Graphic by Ashley Quan

AMS Assembly on Oct. 22 was notably marked by the appearance of Principal Daniel Woolf to discuss the planned modifications to the Non-Academic Discipline (NAD) system at Queen’s.

The meeting began with the routine approval of the agenda and past meeting’s minutes, and a reminder from Speaker Sam Anderson to “please continue to practice self-care and hang in there” as we reach the midway mark of the fall semester. 

AMS President Kanivanan Chinniah then introduced the discussion regarding the NAD system, and gave the floor to Principal Woolf and Provost Alan Harrison. 

Thus began the bulk of the meeting, which was marked by questions from Assembly members, and repetitive responses from Woolf and Harrison. 

While the conversation began in a lighthearted manner — with Chinniah making topical remarks about being “ready for real change” — student representatives quickly acquired a tone of concern about changes to the NAD system. 

ASUS President Brandon Jamieson asked why the University was basing their building blocks for the policy on other schools rather than on the current system at Queen’s.

Jamieson called “the peer-to-peer system” a strong feature of the current NAD procedures, and expressed concern about losing this aspect of the system. 

Ana Lopez, president of the Commerce Society, then questioned Woolf and Harrison about the classification of offenses. 

She said alcohol consumption is a cultural and social issue for Queen’s students that can’t be adequately dealt with by an administrative body. Any concerns dealing with alcohol consumption should be handled at a student level, she said.

“When it comes from a student, it can be seen from a better light,” she said.

Jamieson agreed, saying victimless offenses should perhaps be considered a separate category. 

Woolf rejected Lopez and Jamieson’s concerns, saying “substance abuse does put students at risk, quite honestly.”

Principal Woolf gave similar responses to many of the questions during the meeting, citing the risk to “student health, wellness and safety” as justification for the majority of administrative actions that students leaders questioned. 

“If someone gets drunk in their dorm room, and throws up on the carpet, that’s not entirely victimless,” Principal Woolf said. “If someone gets drunk as part of a hazing activity, that’s not exactly what I would call a victimless incident.”

Jamieson refuted Woolf’s response, and called the Principal’s perpetual explanation about “risk to students” a “legislative fishing net”. Instead, Jamison said, a certain amount of specificity is required when discussing offenses.

Jamieson then said hazing is a criminal offense, unlike throwing up, and rejected Woolf’s lack of distinction between the two examples. 

This lack of differentiation was brought up again by PHEKSA President Lindsay Toth, who said she was “quite confident that NAD currently can make the distinction between a party and a hazing event.”

“Since the administration are so removed from what it means to be a Queen’s student, that confidence can be lost,” she said. Woolf disagreed with her statement. 

Mike Blair, chairman of the AMS Board of Directors, spoke from the perspective of a medical first responder with Queen’s First Aid, where he said he dealt with alcohol-related incidents. 

“I would encourage you to maintain in either policy or practice, [that] when a student calls Campus Security to activate Queen’s First Aid, they do not penalize the students.”

He said it’s crucial that students are still encouraged to call for help in this situations.

Woolf didn’t comment extensively on Blair’s concerns, but said encouraging students not to make these calls would “be completely contrary to the purpose of the whole exercise”. 

Members of AMS Assembly made multiple suggestions to Woolf and Harrison, including an advisement from Toth to open a student forum to “tangibly incorporate student feedback.”

To this, Woolf said a channel for feedback was already available. 

“I come back to the existence of the Principal’s website,” he said. 

Further concerns were raised regarding the role students will play in the shifting system and the implementation of restorative justice measures. 

The remainder of the meeting briefly overviewed each executive member’s report, and moved along to each of the motions, which mainly pertained to the addition of questions for the fall referendum.

All motions passed with little to no commentary. (The agenda is available here).

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