NAM contract signed after a month long delay

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September saw AMS with no authority in new non-academic misconduct system

Ryan Pistorius, current judicial affairs manager for the AMS, in front of his office on Sept. 29.
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For 118 years, Queen’s has given disciplinary and judicial power of its students, to their peers, through the country’s sole peer-lead non-academic disciplinary system. For the past year, the University’s Intake Office has limited the student government’s power by overseeing all cases brought to their judicial system.

The non-academic misconduct (NAM) system has been under review for the past year and in its place was an interim protocol that expired on Sept. 1, leaving the AMS with no authority in the system for a month as they waited to sign an Agency Agreement.

“I haven’t seen it, no one has seen it,” Judicial Affairs Manager Ryan Pistorius told The Journal on Sept. 29. “As I understand it, it’s currently still being drafted. As far as I know, the only people who have seen it are the AMS executive and a few select members of the administration.”

When asked by The Journal if it should have been signed already, Pistorius paused before answering.

“Yes. If I’m being very blunt. The interim protocol and the policies that we had in place expired at the end of the summer. As of Sept. 1, AMS [non-academic disciplinary system], within a University scope, doesn’t exist, because we don’t have any kind of mandate to work under.”

Both Pistorius and The Journal were informed shortly after the interview that AMS President Tyler Lively had signed the agreement, on the evening of Sept. 28.

A 1924 meeting of the AMS Court, which eventually becomes the AMS Judicial Committee.

However, Pistorius’ office had been left without the ability to work for almost all of September.

The non-academic misconduct (NAM) system, formerly known as non-academic discipline (NAD), had been under review for some time. In 2012, following two alcohol-related student deaths, The Journal reported on a perceived attempt by the University to dismantle peer-led disciplinary methods.

At the time, the system was an entirely student-operated judicial board to discipline students in violation of the Queen’s Code of Conduct, based on restorative justice.

Discussions continued over the ensuing years, and in May of 2015, by request of the University,  Harriet Lewis, the secretary and general counsel of York University, compiled a report for Queen’s which warned of legal and reputational risk arising from Queen’s traditions.

Last year, the system was taken under review by the Board of Trustees and the interim protocol was put in place, which prompted contention among current and past student leaders. A central intake office and student conduct office were created under an interim protocol and solidified in policy after a new Student Code of Conduct was accepted by the Board.

The formal delegation of authority to students, following the expiry of the interim protocol on Sept. 1, relied on the signing of an Agency Agreement between the University, the AMS and SGPS.

The other three units under NAM — Athletics and Recreation, the Student Conduct Office, and the Residences — already fall under the University’s jurisdiction, and therefore don’t require any signed agreements to operate under NAM.

When initially asked for a copy of the agreement, the AMS responded to The Journal that the document was confidential. When asked if it would eventually be made available to the public, on Sept. 29, Pistorius responded that “from a quasi-legal basis, it kind of has to.”

A Queen's archive photo of the all-male 1932 AMS Court.

Though Lively signed the agreement on Sept. 28, there had been no public posting or announcement at the time of The Journal’s publication.

During the time that the AMS has been without authority, all cases have been handed off to the Student Conduct Office. For Pistorius, this fact, combined with the uncertainty of the new system, has lead to many students forgoing their complaints being filed.

“It’s frustrating, because I don’t think anyone’s intention with the new Code of Conduct intended to prevent people from filing complaints when they’ve been harmed, but that’s the effect. Because we have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said.

On Tuesday, the University Senate dissolved the Senate Committee on Non-Academic Misconduct (SONAM), which functioned as a governance and oversight body, as well as an operational roundtable. It was comprised of leaders of the various NAM units, representation from the administration, and 50 per cent either ex officio or elected members at large.

According to Pistorius, who sat on SONAM as an elected member at large, SONAM’s responsibilities were split among two new bodies following its dissolution.

The NAM Subcommittee was thereby charged with governance and oversight of the system, and the NAM Roundtable with the operational side.

“Presumably, we will start going to [the NAM Roundtable] when we have an Agency Agreement,” Pistorius said. “That’s the only way we’d know what’s happening.”

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