Queen’s using Student Code of Conduct for off-campus public health violations but not acts of racism

Scope of code applies to off-campus activities that threaten University operations

The discussion happened at the March 23 Senate meeting.

Queen’s is applying the Student Code of Conduct to off-campus public health infractions, but not off-campus acts of racism. 

At the March 23 Senate meeting, Senator Laeeque Daneshmend, who’s also a member of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE), asked for confirmation that Queen’s is applying the Code to students who break public health orders.

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green confirmed Queen’s has an arrangement with the City of Kingston and Kingston Police that, when individuals are charged under the Reopening Ontario Act or other offences related to public health, the University receives information about those students. Green said this includes students who were charged for breaking public health orders last fall and during the recent COVID-19 outbreak. 

“I expect in due course we will receive those names and then those will be processed in the same manner through our normal Student Code of Conduct processes,” he said.   
 Green added the scope of the Code applies when off-campus activities affect campus operations, stating public health infractions off-campus threaten the University because they cause Queen’s to scale back operations. 

“So, hence, we’re able in that case to provide that direct link which meets the test of those specific cases,” he said. “That same logic would not apply if a student were in another jurisdiction and, say, broke COVID protocols. That would not apply for that.”

Senator Daneshmend said his motivation behind his line of questioning was confusion about how the Code applies to acts of racism.

“I have been thoroughly frustrated for over four years now that this University keeps on dragging its feet and prevaricating and obfuscating and not being clear regarding the application of the Student Code of Conduct to racist acts that occur off campus,” he said. 

The topic of applying the Code to off-campus acts of racism was last highlighted over four years ago, when Queen’s received national attention for a racist costume party. At the time, former Principal Daniel Woolf confirmed students wouldn’t be punished through the Code of Conduct, which could only be applied to off-campus activities that were sanctioned events. 

“I would strongly urge both yourself and the principal to come out with a clear statement on this matter because it is really quite a glaring double standard that we are applying it to off-campus incidences that relate to public health and we are not applying it to incidences of racist behaviour,” Daneshmend said.

Provost Green thanks Daneshmend for his recommendation.

“Ever since you raised it after the statement in the fall I have considered it or have been thinking about it, and I don’t have a specific response other than to think about ways in which we can do that in individual cases as they arrive.”

Principal Deane added the Non-Academic Misconduct Subcommittee has discussed the issue. 

“Modifications to the code that will bring racism squarely within the purview of the code are not only being contemplated, they will occur,” he said. 

The Journal reported last October that Undergraduate Trustee Shoshannah Bennett-Dwara has been advocating for the addition of a definition of racism to the Student Code of Conduct. 

Senator Daneshmend asked Queen’s to clarify its commitment to addressing acts of racism.

“I think it is perhaps a disservice to the community, and particularly to our students, if we are not clear as to the commitment of this institution to addressing acts of racist behaviour throughout our community,” he said. “Time after time, when I speak to racialized students, they’re very sensitive to this matter, and I think a clear statement on this would go a long way in reassuring many, many people in our community.”

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