Minor offences studied
By Kevin Gale
Students convicted of wet/dry offences this year found a legal loophole which the preliminary draft of Western's proposed Student Code of Conduct will close.
The wet/dry cards distributed by the University Students' Council allow underage students entrance to campus bars.
The council's legal affairs officer Ron Kirschner said the previous section of the student disciplinary code dealing with alcohol offences was vague enough for students to argue successfully that wet/dry offences were not covered. "It would make a good argument to appeal the decision from student court," he said. "I'm surprised no one has tried it."
The unamended sections of the current code deal only with possession of alcohol at an unlicensed event and the misuse of identification on campus. "It was enough that we pigeonholed underneath it," Kirschner said. "So we proposed amendments to capture behaviour relative to wet/dry offences." Other wet/dry offences include forgetting to pick up a wet/dry card after leaving the bar and underage drinking.
Of the 1,984 Western students who have the card this year, only six students have been convicted of wet/dry offences. Current penalties for wet/dry offences include small fines and community service. "It's a realistic policy that students are contracted [with the USC] to abide by," he said.
However, Kirschner said any students successful in an appeal before the new code is made official by the Board of Governors may not escape the long arm of the law, as the USC could get a motion from the court making the policy apply retroactively.
Brian Timney, chair of the senate committee working on the code of conduct, said a first draft of the code was released to some members of the Western community earlier this week for perusal but will not be official until it has been approved by the Board of Governors later this year.
Timney said the wet/dry alcohol policy amendments will be taken as given from Kirschner. "What we are trying to do is get a general code covering aspects of student behaviour not covered in our own rules and regulations," Timney said.
One of the features of the proposed code, which is an amended version of the current student disciplinary code, is how sexual assault offenders and victims will be dealt with on an academic level.
If a male student is accused of sexually assaulting a female student and they are in the same class, the two would be put into separate classes, either by one or both of them moving to another section, Timney said.
Also, mechanisms for dealing with issues such as stalking and disruption of classes beyond the realm of freedom speech are being considered for the document, Timney added.