Board of Governors, May 3, 2001 - APPENDIX IV, Annex 2
FIRST PUBLISHED APRIL 25, 2000
Vice-Provost's Advisory Committee on a Code of Student Conduct
REPORT OF THE VICE-PROVOST'S ADVISORY COMMITTEE
ON A CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT
It is a fact of life that in any community of more than 20,000 people there will at times be a few individuals whose behavior goes beyond what is considered acceptable in that community. In a small town, such unacceptable behavior may be regulated through policing and other legal avenues. Similarly, illegal behavior in a university can also be addressed through the standard legal system. However, the university, as a self-contained community with its own set of practices and regulations, has a legitimate interest in responding independently to such illegal behavior and, as well, in dealing with behavior that, while not illegal, is unacceptable within the community.
Currently, the University has a number of policies and procedures in place to deal with unacceptable behavior. These vary in their degree of formality, in the areas of behavior to which they apply, and in the mechanisms for dealing with infractions. For example, certain operational units within the University, such as Housing, and Campus Recreation, have rules relating to acceptable conduct, including disciplinary procedures and specific sanctions related to those units. The University also has policies and regulations of more general application, such as those dealing with scholastic offences, race relations, sexual harassment, research conduct, smoking, and parking. Some of these policies and regulations have detailed disciplinary procedures that include specific sanctions. Others merely set out the proscribed conduct, but do not include disciplinary procedures or sanctions. However, all of these policies purport either to regulate a certain type of conduct or regulate conduct in a specific location. This piecemeal approach means that, while some types of conduct are addressed specifically in a written policy, other types of conduct that may be equally reprehensible have either not been addressed or are addressed only if they occur in a certain area or unit of the University.
The Advisory Committee was charged with the task of reviewing the current disciplinary structures within the University and with developing a Code of Student Conduct that sets out the standard of conduct expected of students who are registered at The University of Western Ontario, and includes sanctions and disciplinary procedures. However it was not our intention to develop a Code that would supplant existing polices. Rather, the proposed Code provides a framework within which disciplinary actions may be taken throughout the University.
This Code of Student Conduct is being circulated for comment. Written submissions may be addressed to Professor Brian Timney, Dean's Office, Faculty of Social Science, Social Science Centre, or by e-mail at email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 2, 2000. These comments will assist the Advisory Committee in preparing a final version. It is anticipated that the final version of a Code of Student Conduct will be brought forward for approval this Fall.
1. Jurisdiction of the Board of Governors and Senate re: Discipline
Since 1923 the University has operated under a bicameral system of governance. As noted in the Report of the President's Committee of Inquiry into Social Behavior (Carrothers Report) of March 1968, the Board of Governors was given jurisdiction over student conduct with the amendments to the University's governing Act in 1923. Since at least 1928 the University has published rules and policy statements on student conduct. For example, in 1957 the Board passed a "Statement of Policy re Student Conduct" which was included in the University Calendar well into the 1960s. That Policy stated, in part:
As the Senate imposes minimum academic standards so, too, the Board of Governors requires a standard of personal conduct in keeping with the status of a university student. The following regulations must also be observed by all students:
1. All students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner becoming scholars and ladies and gentlemen. The University reserves the right at any time to suspend or dismiss a student whose conduct or academic standing is in its judgment unsatisfactory.
2. Intoxication, or disorder and bad manners arising from the use of alcoholic beverages, are particularly serious offences and will subject the student involved to the penalty of suspension or dismissal from the University.
3. Any student may be placed under discipline when, in the opinion of the Dean of a Faculty or the Dean or Principal of a College or School, his attitude toward his University obligations has been unsatisfactory.
6. The Board of Governors reserves the right to establish regulations with respect to dress as well as conduct on the premises of the University.
7. "Hazing" and/or "initiation" of University students is prohibited by virtue of a 1934 resolution of the Board of Governors.
Beginning in 1968 and continuing until late 1972, a number of ad hoc committees were established to recommend policy and procedures to handle and regulate student misconduct, both academic and "socio-academic", commencing with the aforementioned Carrothers Report and concluding with the Final Report of the President's Ad Hoc Committee on Rules, in November 1972. The Carrothers Report noted that the Board of Governors' general authority over student conduct derives from the plenary powers given to the Board under section 20 of the 1967 Act. It went on to state the following:
Jurisdiction over academic offences and matters of academic control and evaluation is not specifically allocated in the University of Western Ontario Act. However it is assumed that these matters fall within the proper sphere of the Senate, which is given wide jurisdiction over academic matters.(1)
The reports recommended specific procedures for handling each type of misconduct, with the Senate having jurisdiction over scholastic offences and the Board of Governors having jurisdiction over socio-academic offences.(2)
Sections 18, 19, 20, 29 and 30 of our current governing legislation, University of Western Ontario Act, 1982, as amended, sets out the respective jurisdictions of the Board of Governors and Senate.
Section 18 of the Act states:
Except in such matters as are assigned by this Act to the Senate or other body, the government, conduct, management and control of the University and of its property and affairs are vested in the Board, and the Board may do such things as it considers to be for the good of the University and consistent with the public interest.
In addition to this section, which is similar to section 20 in the previous Act, the current Act also includes a new provision dealing with conduct. Section 19(k) provides that the Board may establish and enforce regulations "for the use of its buildings, grounds and ancillary operations, and for the orderly conduct of persons entering upon the lands and premises of the University."
Section 29 of the Act provides in part that the Senate "is responsible for the academic policy of the University...."
On the basis of these provisions, the regulation of student conduct, with the sole exception of conduct that is deemed to be a scholastic offence, continues to be within the proper sphere of the Board of Governors.
While jurisdiction over the regulation of conduct that is deemed to be a scholastic offence is not specifically allocated to Senate under the Act, it has been accepted for many years that this particular type of conduct properly falls within the sphere of Senate. Senate has enacted specific policies and procedures defining "scholastic offences" and establishing procedures for handling such offences.
2. The Present Committee
The Vice-Provost originally established an Advisory Committee in 1995. For a variety of reasons, in its initial incarnations that Committee was unable fulfil its mandate. In 1999, the Committee was re-established and began work in November of that year. It invited written and oral submissions from the University community through advertisements in the Gazette and Western News. In addition, the Chair of the Committee wrote to specific groups in the University requesting input.(3)
The Committee received 11 written responses to its request. In addition several persons requested meetings with the Chair. The constructive input received by the Committee was very helpful in identifying the essential principles that should be addressed in the Code and in developing procedures.(4)
In addition the Committee reviewed current University policies regulating student conduct, including regulations that are specific to conduct in a specific unit or area of the University as well as policies that are of general application across the University. Finally, the Committee reviewed over twenty Codes of Student Conduct or equivalent disciplinary regulations established by universities across Canada and spoke to many of the administrators involved in implementing those Codes.
Guiding principles in preparing the Code
The advice received from both internal sources and sources external to the University was very beneficial to the Committee as it sought to draft a Code that would set out the standard of conduct expected of students and would provide rules and procedures that were simple to implement, efficient to administer, and fair to all of those who might be involved in the process. The two most important guiding principles were: first, to allow minor disciplinary infractions to be dealt with at the lowest possible level in an informal manner; and second, where the nature of an alleged offence merited more formal proceedings, to provide procedures that would allow the matter to be dealt with expeditiously and fairly, with a clear avenue of appeal.
The proposed Code that accompanies this Report is a formal statement of the Committee's views, based both on the advice it received and its own deliberations. However, it may be informative to provide a brief commentary on some of the issues that were raised in the course of developing the Code.
1. Off-Campus Behavior. The degree to which off-campus behavior is regulated in Codes of Student Conduct varies markedly across universities. We take the view that the University is not in a position to control all aspects of a student's behavior simply because he or she happens to be a student, nor should it do so. However, where the action of one student has a direct impact on the academic life of another student, or on the University itself, irrespective of where that action occurs, then the Code should apply. For example, theft of another student's notes from an off-campus location may be subject to disciplinary proceedings under the Code.
2. The Relationship Between Proceedings Taken Against a Student Under the Code and Proceedings Taken Against a Student in the Civil or Criminal courts. It is important to recognise that any Code of Student Conduct is not a substitute for criminal or civil proceedings that may be instituted against a student. The purpose of the Code is to deal with inappropriate behavior that has a direct impact on the University community. In some circumstances such behavior would not be a criminal offence or warrant civil action, but nevertheless would be considered unacceptable within the University. In other cases, the University may wish to impose its own sanctions for an offence for which a student has been charged under the Criminal Code or other statute.
3. Offences and Sanctions. The Advisory Committee considered the issue of the kind of sanction that might be applied to a particular offence. It is clear that sanctions should not be applied arbitrarily and should be matched both in severity and relevance to the offence. Offences related to ongoing academic activity may invite sanctions that restrict the offender's academic progress, while other offences committed outside the academic arena might merit sanctions, such as restitution or community service, that are independent of a student's academic activity. However, in some instances, the nature and degree of the offence may be such as to invite a more severe penalty, up to and including expulsion. It is impossible to define in detail which offences might merit which penalty, because the circumstances of each alleged offence will vary. So, in the Code, the Committee chose to provide an exemplary, rather than exhaustive, list of both offences and sanctions.
4. Relationship to Other Codes and Regulations Within the University. As mentioned above, a number of operations within the University already have their own guidelines regulating student conduct, and there are, in addition, other University-wide policies concerned with inappropriate behavior. Such guidelines and policies have been designed to deal with quite specific classes of behavior and the sanctions that are applicable in that context. The Advisory Committee did not feel that it was appropriate to subsume these within the new Code. However, the Committee was of the view that where an alleged offence might warrant a sanction beyond those available under those specific policies and guidelines, then there should be a mechanism to refer the matter to the appropriate authority for action under the Code.
With one exception which is discussed in (f) below (Student Disciplinary Code), none of the current
regulations and codes will require any immediate modification as a result of the implementation of the
Code of Student Conduct. The following is a summary of how the Code addresses current policies and
(a) Scholastic Offences: Part III of the Code specifically provides that conduct that is a scholastic offence is outside the purview of the Code.
(b) Policy and Procedures for the Conduct of Research: Conduct that falls within the purview of this Policy is similar to a scholastic offence and should not be subject to the procedures set out in the Code of Student Conduct. The Code specifically provides that such conduct is not subject to disciplinary action under the Code.
(c) Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures and Race Relations Policy: These Policies provide a complete mechanism for handling complaints, and penalties can range from a reprimand to suspension or expulsion. The Code specifically provides that conduct that falls within the purview of these Policies is not subject to disciplinary action under the Code.
While these Policies are excluded from the Code at this time, we suggest that it would be more appropriate to have conduct that is deemed to be an offence under the Race Relations Policy or the Sexual Harassment Policy governed by the same disciplinary procedures set out under the Code of Student Conduct for similar types of misconduct. For example, it seems to be a rather arbitrary distinction to follow certain procedures and have one set of decision makers in the case of an allegation of assault or harassment, but a completely different decision maker (the Human Relations Tribunal) in the case of a sexual harassment or sexual assault allegation. We suggest that the procedures that have been set up by the University for dealing with sexual harassment and assault be reviewed in light of the new Code of Student Conduct to determine if separate procedures are still appropriate.
Similarly, the Race Relations Policy provides that decisions are to be made by the Chair and Dean of the home faculty, and the decanal decision may be appealed to SRBA. With the introduction of an appeal body to deal with decisions regarding general misconduct, it may be an appropriate time to discuss whether the academic appeal body, SRBA, is the appropriate appeal body in these cases, and whether amendments should be made to the Race Relations Policy to allow alleged offences under that Policy to be handled in the same way as other misconduct that is governed by the Code of Student Conduct.
(d) Other Regulations and Policies: The fact that a matter may be dealt with or has been dealt with under specific regulations, such as the Residence Understandings or the Code of Behavior for Use of Computing Resources and Corporate Data does not preclude the appropriate authorities under the Code of Student Conduct from reviewing the incident and applying sanctions where appropriate. For example, serious misconduct by a student in the facilities operated by Campus Recreation will subject the student to the limited sanctions available under Campus Recreation's policies. However, the conduct may be of such a nature that it may warrant a sanction beyond what is available at that level. The same procedures set out in the Code of Student Conduct for dealing with complaints will be followed when dealing with referrals from other disciplinary authorities.
(e) The Code's Appeal Mechanisms: In the proposed Code the right of appeal is limited to appeals of decisions of Deans and the Vice-Provost (or their designates) made under this Code. It is not available for appeals of decisions made by other individuals or bodies under other codes or regulations. Whether appeal rights, or additional levels of appeal, should be accorded under those other policies and regulations and whether those appeals should be to the appeal body established in the Code, is a matter that the University may wish to review further.
(f) The Student Disciplinary Code: The forerunner of the current Student Disciplinary Code was, until the late 1970s, a code operated by the University Students' Council. That early code was enacted by the USC in the mid-sixties as its fifth special resolution, or "Resolution Five" as it later came to be known.(5) In order to increase the effectiveness of Resolution Five, the University Students' Council approached the Board of Governors in 1979 and asked that it approve the Student Disciplinary Code, as the revised Resolution Five was now to be called.
Part A, section 1 of the Code states in part:
The University of Western Ontario Student Disciplinary Code, hereinafter called the "Code" shall extend to include all students, excepting members of the Society of Graduate Students, registered at The University of Western Ontario or any one of its affiliated Colleges while they are on The University of Western Ontario campus. Jurisdiction shall also extend to off-campus events to which the Event Staff has been assigned....
The Code sets out a long list of "offences", nearly one quarter of which are drinking related offences. However it also includes offences such as theft, tampering with fire protection equipment, damage to property, acting in a dangerous manner, verbal abuse, and assault. The penalties that may be imposed are limited to fines, restitution, restriction of social privileges, and community service work.
The Student Court is conducted in a similar manner to the criminal courts, The procedures are very detailed and include formal procedures for the laying of charges, and the convening and conduct of hearings. The student is a "defendant" and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty at the outset of the hearing. The Officers of the Court are law students from the Faculty of Law. The Code provides for a "Supervisory Board" which is responsible for "the general administration of the Code." The Advisory Committee was informed that the Supervisory Board has not met for some time. The Chair of the Supervisory Board is "the Commissioner for Undergraduate Student Life", which is an office that has been vacant for several years. We were also told that there were no formal statistics that could be given to the Committee regarding the type and number of offences that had come before the Student Court over the last few years. However, we were advised that between September of 1999 and early February of this year, only nine charges were laid under the Code. Except for one charge of damage to property, which was related to damage at a licensed establishment operated by the USC, the remainder were wet/dry offences. Finally, we were informed that neither the Student Court nor the administration supporting the Court, can handle the very large number of wet/dry violations and therefore the officers of the Court purposely do not lay many charges.
The laying of charges under the Code is very precisely laid out: only certain persons may file a report of a violation (registered students, University Police officers, members of the Event Staff, or employees of a licensed facility on campus). The Commissioner of Justice then is required to convene a meeting with the Prosecutor and the Chairperson of the Event Staff (and sometimes the Director of the University Police) to determine whether charges shall be laid. We were advised that in fact this meeting does not usually take place before charges are laid.
Finally, the Code has provision for an Appeal Board. However, we noted that one of the three member panel is the aforementioned Commissioner for Undergraduate Student Life or his/her designate, so the appeal panel could not be properly constituted for the last few years.
The current Student Disciplinary Code is not operating in the way it was intended. It was clear to the Advisory Committee that the Officers are trying to cope as best as they can with an outdated Code that is in need of major revision. In any review of this Code the Committee suggests that the following issues be addressed:
• Is a formal court procedure the most appropriate way to deal with allegations of improper conduct? While it may be good experience for law students, the University must consider whether it is in the best interest of students at this University to handle alleged misconduct through formal complex procedures that are akin to criminal proceedings, especially when the Student Court has found that it cannot proceed with laying many charges because it cannot handle the volume of alleged alcohol-related transgressions.
• What type of misconduct should be within the jurisdiction of a student court/student discipline committee? While it is beneficial to have peer run disciplinary body for some matters, the Code's jurisdiction should be limited to relatively minor types of misconduct.
• Should there be a clear link between the senior administration and the person/persons who decide to proceed with "charges" under the Student Disciplinary Code? Consideration should be given to having the President or his/her designate involved in the initial decision as to whether an incident should be handled under the Student Disciplinary Code.
There is some urgency to proceeding quickly with amendments to the Student Disciplinary Code so that it can fit within the framework of the Code of Student Conduct. It was the intention of the Advisory Committee that the Student Disciplinary Code would be akin to other disciplinary codes and procedures established by the University with clear jurisdiction over a limited range of offences and the power to impose a limited range of penalties. Therefore, as is provided in the Code of Student Conduct, in a given case a matter may be referred to the Vice-Provost (or appropriate Dean if applicable) and dealt with under the Code of Student Conduct when it is felt that the particular misconduct may warrant more severe sanctions than are available under the Student Disciplinary Code.
5. Codes of Conduct for Professional Programs/Standards of Professional Conduct. Currently, at least one professional program at the University is working on the development of a code of professional conduct. The Committee was of the opinion that such codes would be best considered as dealing with a particular class of academic misconduct and therefore would not be within the purview of this proposed Code. We note that several universities have separate Codes of Professional Conduct that apply to all of their professional programs and allow for a full range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion. Non-academic offences committed by students in professional programs that are not related to their status as students in these programs would be subject to discipline under the Code in the same way as it would for any other student. If such codes are established, the Code of Student Conduct would be appropriately amended to exclude conduct that has already been dealt with under those codes.
6. Relationship with Affiliated Colleges. The Affiliation Agreement between the constituent University and Brescia, Huron and King's Colleges deals specifically with student activities and discipline in sections 17 to 20 of the agreement. These sections are reproduced here.
Student Activities and Discipline
17.(a) Students registered in the Affiliated College shall comply with all regulations governing student conduct established by the Senate in relation to Academic Standards and Scholastic Discipline.
(b) Students registered in the Affiliated College shall be entitled to representation on the University Students' Council in accordance with its constitution, and all such students shall be subject to the rules and regulations of the University Students' Council and the Board of Governors while on University property.
(c) Students registered in the University while on the property of the Affiliated College shall remain subject to the regulations of the University Students' Council and of the Board of Governors, and shall also be subject to the rules and regulations of the Affiliated College.
18. Students registered in the College, on payment of the prescribed student activity fee, shall be entitled to full privileges in the use of University's athletic facilities and Health Services.
19. Students representing the Affiliated College in athletics, literary or other inter-faculty or intramural competition must be duly registered students of the Affiliated College.
20. The Principal of the Affiliated College shall be responsible for the discipline of all students registered in the Affiliated College, as prescribed by this agreement, and responsible for the residential discipline of students of other Affiliated Colleges and Faculties while living in residence at the Affiliated College.
(a) Students Registered in the University
Section 17, paragraph (c) provides that students registered in the constituent University shall remain subject to the regulations of the University Students' Council and of the Board of Governors, and shall also be subject to the rules and regulations of the Affiliated College while on the property of the Affiliated College.
The Committee was strongly of the view that it was important to make it very clear to students who are registered at the University that misconduct on the property of the affiliated colleges will be considered by the University to be as reprehensible as misconduct on the lands and premises of the University and will be subject to the same disciplinary procedures and sanctions as misconduct occurring on the premises of the University.
(b) Students Registered in the Affiliated Colleges
Section 17, paragraph (b) provides that students registered in the Affiliated Colleges "shall be subject to the rules and regulations of the University Students' Council and the Board of Governors while on University property." Section 20 provides that the Principal of the Affiliated College shall be responsible for the discipline of all students registered in the Affiliated College.
Therefore, it is the Advisory Committee's understanding that under this Agreement the parties have agreed that the Affiliated Colleges' students must follow the rules set out in the Code of Student Conduct while on University property, but pursuant to this Agreement discipline for non-compliance is the responsibility of the relevant Principal.
The Code itself contains a very simple definition of student: "...a person who is registered in a credit or a non-credit course or program of studies at the University, and includes a person registered in a continuing education course." (II.1) This definition would include a student registered in an Affiliated College who registers in a course at the University. The Committee is of the view that the University should have the authority to apply certain disciplinary sanctions against any student who is registered in a course at the University where appropriate. For example, if the Affiliated College student is taking a course at the University and engages in disruptive or dangerous conduct either in the classroom or on the premises of the University, the University may feel that it is necessary to remove that student from the course or restrict him/her from taking courses at the University if such action is deemed necessary for the safety or well-being of others on the campus. Similarly, we would expect that the Affiliated Colleges would take similar measures against students registered at the University who are taking courses at the Affiliated Colleges where such measures are deemed necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all persons on their premises.
We suggest that the University and the Affiliated Colleges review their affiliation agreement in light of the above comments. Specifically, we recommend that the University and the Affiliated Colleges consider an amendment to section 20 of the agreement to allow a party to take disciplinary action against a student who is enrolled in a course at that entity but who is registered at the other entity.
Professor Brian Timney, Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Science (Chair)
Michael Curry, Meds II, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Theresa Morrissey, Assistant University Secretary
Professor Syd Usprich, Faculty of Law
April 25, 2000
1. See pages 10 and 13 of the Carrothers Report.
2. The Carrothers Report defined "Scholastic Offences" as being those "which relate to the performance of academic duties or standards of scholarship" and "Socio-Academic Offences" as being those "which relate to disruption of good order in the classroom or in campus facilities, and damage to property and danger to the health or safety of others." (p. 24)
3. Members of the Board of Governors, Members of Senate, Deans, Director of Libraries and Chief Librarian, Senior Directors, Presidents of Unions, PMA, USC, SOGS, MBAA, Ombudsperson, and Director, Student Development Centre
4. Individuals who contacted the Committee: Glenn Matthews, Housing Mediation Officer; Frances Bauer, Ombudsperson; Sue Desmond, President, Staff Association; Susan McDonald, President, Society of Graduate Students; Joyce MacKinnon, Associate Dean, Programs, Faculty of Health Sciences; Catherine Jonkhans, Faculty of Health Sciences; SzeJack Tan, President, University Students' Council; Conceicao Arruda, Student; Ed J. Brogden, Student; Carol McAulay-Weldon, Chair, Board of Governors; Gloria Leckie, Associate Dean, Faculty of Information and Media Studies; Jim Silcox, Associate Dean, Student Affairs, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry; Darla McNeil, Administrative Officer, Admissions/Student & Equity Affairs, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry; Sachin Pendharkar, Student; Michelle Drury, Marketing & Membership Services Coordinator, Western Campus Recreation.
5. The Carrothers Report notes that the USC received its authority and jurisdiction to set up the disciplinary machinery in Resolution Five by way of delegation from the University Board of Governors (p.11). One of the possible sanctions for several of the offences included in Resolution Five was "to be recommended for suspension or dismissal from the University". (Appendix C, Carrothers Report)