Senate questions $350,000 payment to City

Senate debates revoking honorary degrees from deceased recipients 

Senate discussed updates to Academic Integrity Procedures policy.   
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On Oct. 26, the October senate meeting began with Principal Patrick Deane’s opening address followed by a moment of silence for Queen’s student Jacob Downey
October’s meeting included discussions on new revisions to the Academic Integrity Procedures policy, the special issuance of Honorary Degrees, and the events that occured during Homecoming weekends. 
Academic Integrity Procedures policy 
The Senate discussed proposed revisions to the Academic Integrity Procedures policy. 
Led by Senator Klodiana Kolomitro, chair of the Senate Committee on Academic Development and Procedures (SCADP), the revisions focused on procedural fairness, evidence, confidentiality, and timing. 
The report also proposed that each faculty/school appoint an Academic Integrity administrator who will carry out responsibilities including providing advice to instructors and maintaining records. 
According to Kolomitro, the revisions have been in the works for “over a year and a half.”
“In terms of the changes that have been done, a lot of those are very logistical and align the procedures with a policy.” 
“They aim to clarify the process and reduce the workload of the instructors by clarifying step by step what needs to be done,” Kolomitro said. “The other change is to bring consistency across faculties and schools.” 
Senator Jordan Morelli raised concerns on the recommendations, with a motion to refer the discussed topic back to SCADP.   
“With all due respect, I would suggest that we still haven’t gotten it right,” Morelli said.  
Morelli added that many administrators have often found this work “burdensome”.
“I think it’s contrary to natural justice principles that the investigator is also the judge and jury and the executioner in these things, and also the person that hears initial appeals, and it’s particularly onerous on our terms adjunct faculty which teach a considerable portion of all courses at Queen’s—it’s a huge trauma and one that’s only getting worse,” he said. 
Senator Diane Beauchemin, undergraduate chair for Department of Chemistry, seconded the motion. 
“Speaking with faculty members in my department, several of them just close their eyes, and they’re just overloaded, so I’m very much in favor of this motion,” Beauchemin said.
After hearing questions and concerns, Kolomitro explained the proposal puts an emphasis on the perspectives of fairness, mental health, consistency, and resource application for faculties and school to follow. 
“You’re actually taking away some of the education, the training, the mentoring that we’re working so hard to implement through the academic integrity procedures […] we’re adding to the instructor workload because it is the instructor who knows the context best,” Kolomitro said. 
The Senate reviewed the revised procedures but no other changes were made or suggested. The Senate unanimously motioned and approved the updated policy.
Senate Honorary Degrees Committee 
The Honorary Degree is a degree awarded to an individual to recognize “outstanding contribution to society on a national or international scale.” 
The Honorary Degree Committee aims to provide a clearer procedure when issuing awards to individuals whose past or current conduct bring disrepute to the university. 
“This is really about how the institution wishes to relate to its history and decisions that have been made in the past, particularly with regard to the honors the university has chosen to bestow on individuals or the morale of many decades,” Deane said. 
“We are an institution that has evolved closely connected to the evolution of our states and to the colonial project.”
In 2018, the University rescinded an honorary degree from Aung San Suu Kyi following her role in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar. According to Deane, the action to revoke the award occurred outside the policy framework. As a result, the Senate hopes to come to a “coherent position” for Queen’s. 
“[This] will enable us to deal honestly and legitimately with some of these decisions which we have reason to question or to regret, but to do so in a way that doesn’t expunge history that isn’t self-serving rather than a principle. In the way in which we address some of these decisions,” Deane said. 
Led by Senator Hunter Duncan, vice chair of the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee and associate professor in the department of Public Health Sciences, the procedure allowed each senator an opportunity to submit a request for the issuance of a statement regarding past awarding of an honorary degree. 
One of the questions raised during the meeting was whether deceased recipients should have their award revoked on the same grounds as living recipients.
“I think that keeping in the exclusion of the deceased recipients really does send a strong message about the branding of the University, and I’m concerned as a Senator,” Senator Karen Lawford, assistant professor in the department of Gender Studies, said. 
“Why can’t we stand up for the moral rights of humanity? […] I think that allowing deceased recipients to maintain their honorary degrees from Queen’s and keep that within that family legacy maintains colonialism, white supremacy, the hatred of the other, the constructions of the other. It maintains patriarchy,” Lawford said. 
Lawford added that having this option will ensure inclusion and safety. 
After being cut off before finishing her statement, Lawford added that she felt “very unwelcomed at the Senate”.  
“I work very hard at trying to convey this in a manner that is accessible to those minds here who don’t consider Indigenous perspectives or work within the framework, and then to be constantly dismissed—this hurts,” Lawford said. 
Senator Duncan issued an apology and called on Senator Nathan Brinklow to speak on the topic. 
Brinklow suggested that revoking honorary degrees should be the last resort. 
“I feel the decision to revoke an honorary degree is essentially an undoing of a previous degree of Senate, and I think it’s consistent with good governance to undo a previously passed thing that requires a super majority to do so,” Morelli said. 
The discussion on honorary degrees was later tabled for further consideration. 
Principal’s report 
In his report, Deane noted the recent large gatherings in the University District during both homecoming weekends. 
“I’ll begin with the obvious, disturbing events in the last several weeks in terms of student behaviour, street parties, and most particularly, the emergence of misogynistic signs on student buildings during the homecoming weekend,” Deane said. 
Deane said the signs reflected the need to “change the culture” of this institution. 
“I think anyone who has watched the YouTube video produced by Jack Denmo at homecoming events […] will realize it’s not just the signs that are troubling, [it’s the] attitudes to sex and gender, and sexual violence—we do have a bigger problem.” 
According to Deane, the signs were taken down immediately at the request of campus security. Additionally, students who put up the signs will be “dealt with under the sexual violence policy.”
After Deane’s report, Senator Morelli raised concerns regarding the $350,000 payment the University made to the city to compensate extra costs taken on from enforcing COVID-19 restrictions in the student district. 
“I and a few others were a little bit troubled that the university gave $350,000, I think it was proactively, to the City of Kingston, I think for the explicit use of policing,” Morelli said. 
“At the end of the day, my view is that policing is a city responsibility,” he said. “We pay taxes, everybody pays taxes, and the university shouldn’t be giving away money when we were struggling to fund programs and hire faculty and meet the mental health needs of our students.” 
Morelli said he would rather see the funds targeted towards student outreach and mental health supports. 
In response to Morelli’s comment, Deane said the university “does not pay taxes directly to the city.” 
“This contribution to the city is in recognition of unusual challenges to their budget, occasioned by the activities of our student body this fall,” Deane said.


The article incorrectly attributed Senator Duncan Hunter as the chair of the Honorary Degrees Committee. In fact, he is the vice-chair of the Honorary Degrees Committee.

The article incorreclty stated discussion on the Academic Integrity Procedure was motioned to be referred back to SCADP. In fact, the updated policy passed.

The Journal regrets the error.

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