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Advisory committee to review student non-academic discipline system

Following a decision by its Board of Trustees, Queen’s University announced today that an advisory committee will review its student non-academic misconduct system with an aim of improving the system for student safety, health and wellness. The review will be overseen by Principal Daniel Woolf.

“First and foremost, Queen’s is committed to student health and safety,” says Barbara Palk, Chair, Board of Trustees. “The changed and increased societal expectations of the role and responsibilities of universities, as well as recommendations from several independent experts, are requiring the university to examine some of its long-standing practices in the interest of student safety and well-being.”

Last fall, external auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers recommended that the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board initiate an independent review of the current policies and procedures in place with regards to student non-academic misconduct and related issues to identify any potential risks or exposures to the university.

The Board requested the review of the current system following an advisory report from independent expert Harriet Lewis, long-time general counsel and university secretary at York University. The Lewis Report identifies several areas for improvement and makes recommendations for reforms so that Queen’s has the best system possible to ensure student safety, rooted in the long-standing traditions of the university and up-to-date with contemporary standards and practices.

“The Board did not undertake this process lightly,” says Ms. Palk. “This is a serious matter for our university, and we have approached this thoughtfully and with purpose. The opinions of independent experts required us to take expeditious action. That said, we expect many of the current system’s core components, including student involvement and the principle of restorative justice, to remain.”

Recognizing the importance of this issue to the university, the review will include significant consultation with members of the Queen’s community, including governing bodies, the student body and others. The university is currently developing a plan for the consultation process.

“The review of current policies and procedures aims to maintain the Queen’s tradition of student involvement in non-academic discipline while at the same time recalibrating the system to meet contemporary realities,” says Principal Woolf. “We want to consider all perspectives to ensure we have the best system to address student non-academic misconduct.”

The advisory committee will include representatives from both the student body and the university administration.

While the review is being completed, the university has instituted an interim protocol for the initial management and direction of cases of student non-academic misconduct.  The interim protocol includes: a Central Intake Office for all cases of non-academic misconduct, reporting to the Office of the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel; a description of what constitutes university-level non-academic misconduct; and, a process within the Provost’s Office for dealing with university-level non-academic misconduct cases.

“Our goal is to ensure a conduct system that affirms student rights and responsibilities in a university environment and that promotes accountability as members of the Queen’s community,” says Principal Woolf. “Queen’s values an educational and developmental approach to student conduct matters that also ensures the safety and well-being of all members of our community.”

The review and interim protocol will not impede the work being done to finalize a sexual assault policy for the university.

The principal will bring forward recommended policies and procedures for approval by the Board and subsequent receipt by the Senate no later than May 31, 2016.