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By Stephanie Cesca
Western's administration may soon be reviewed by an ad hoc committee to evaluate how four engineering student vandals were penalized, if a motion is passed by Senate today.
Michael Lawless, a former student senator-at-large who proposed the ad hoc committee at last month's Senate meeting, said he was pleased the motion would be considered.
"Basically, the idea of the ad hoc committee is to review the procedures that were taken," Lawless said, referring to Western's decision to suspend four engineers for defacing and damaging residences with purple surgical dye during orientation week. "We just want a review to see if something went wrong."
The potential committee's intention is not to blame administration for their actions, but rather to evaluate whether or not due process was exercised, Lawless explained.
He added each of last term's student senators showed concern, because while the university purports to be concerned with its party school reputation, the objectionable engineering incident received a lot of media attention in both London and Toronto. "And to be frank, I think that's doing a heck of a lot more damage than any purple dye could do," he said.
The motion, Lawless added, should generate much heated debate. Western's VP-academic, Greg Moran, agreed the motion would be greatly discussed.
Although Moran said he personally disliked the idea of such a committee reporting to the Senate, he did believe academic sanctions on students required further debate. "It's an important issue and it's one that has to be discussed. I'm not sure that another committee will do that."
Any action which threatens the general good of the university or other people must be dealt with in an appropriate and authoritative fashion, Moran added. "I believe as well, that there is an authority vested in administration."
However, Lawless said he was disappointed with Moran's claim that administration has "reserve powers" in matters such as this. "What are these 'reserved powers?' Where are they? Where can I find a copy?"
Andrew Potter, a second-year engineering student who was reinstated in October after being suspended earlier in the academic year, said he applauded the possibility of an ad hoc committee. "I think it's a wonderful idea," Potter said. "I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I went through."
Potter said he felt administration did not exercise proper authority when they punished him.
As for the $1 million lawsuit filed against the university by the four students, Potter said nothing new has come out of it. "We're still in negotiations," he said.
University Students' Council president SzeJack Tan said although administration is obligated to always follow protocols and procedures, an ad hoc committee could do a lot of good in this situation. "I think it would help, obviously, some students who are upset [by] the way decisions are made."