UVic’s policy that sets consequences for things like vandalism, theft and drug dealing is undergoing a review. The Non-Academic Misconduct Allegations policy (AC1300) has been operational for a year. In August 2011, the Judicial Affairs Office (JAO) and website were created within the Student Affairs office, and since then a partnership with the Victoria Restorative Justice Society has been established.
In addition to working with student societies and other university offices including the Ombudsperson and Campus Security, the JAO is focusing on its communications to the student body.
“One of my goals in the process for reviewing the implementation of this policy is to also raise the campus community’s awareness of the policy and its supporting program,” says Jonathan Derry, manager of Policy Development and Judicial Affairs in an email interview.
The policy was introduced to clarify what classifies as non-academic misconduct and to provide a consistent process for the university to follow under such circumstances. Non-academic misconduct is limited to events that happen on university property or off campus at activities directly related to the university. The policy addresses theft, vandalism, disruptive or dangerous behaviour and the use or trafficking of illicit drugs.
A lack of awareness and clarity among the student body surrounding the policy is a concern for both the JAO and the UVic&rsquo Students’ Society (UVSS), which is involved in the collaborative policy review.
“I believe at other campuses [the policy has] been used to infringe upon students’ rights to demonstrate against university decisions or activities, limiting students’ freedom of expression,” says UVSS Chairperson Emily Rogers.
“We’d like to see a students’ rights policy developed alongside the non-academic misconduct policy,” says Rogers, a notion to which the JAO has been receptive.
The policy has addressed nine incidents by using sanctions, the most severe of which involved suspension for stealing university property, while another seven cases were resolved informally or referred to another university board. Though students have the right to appeal decisions, no appeals have been filed as of yet.
“Wherever possible, the policy encourages informal resolution of student conduct issues,” says Derry.
Sanctions, which are determined on a case-by-case basis, range from written warning or denial of university privileges to suspension. Major sanctions — those involving a notice of trespass, suspension or expulsion — are determined only by the president of the university upon recommendation of the associate vice president student affairs.
Those deciding what action to take consider factors such as the nature of the incident, whether the incident was deliberate and the impact on the university community, property and any individuals involved.
Derry is hoping students become aware of their rights and responsibilities under the policy. “I’d also like to look at innovative ways to ensure that students are aware of and understand the policy and know where to find related resources if they need them.”
Feedback resources on the policy can be found at: www.uvic.ca/judicialaffairs