Volume 93, Issue 49

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Speak clearly or not at all

Editorial Cartoon

Speak clearly or not at all

"The Board confirms its delegation of authority in this area to the Senior Administration, including discretion to lay criminal charges, impose academic sanctions and/or proceed under the Student Disciplinary Code."

Could you be more vague, please?

The preceding quote comes directly from the Board of Governors' Senior Operations Committee's recommendations to the Board on account of the four engineering students who were de-registered in September, only to be re-instated soon after. BOG had deferred to this committee for a decision on the actions taken by senior administration towards said engineers.

SOC then investigated the issue and will present their findings to the BOG later today. Although BOG is to be commended for taking the initiative to investigate the actions of administration, they should be soundly criticized if they accept this recommendation, in particular.

Currently, administration at Western exists on the unwritten rule that they have the ability to use their own discretion when punishing students. This is what allowed them to de-register the four engineers, but it is also what forced them to re-instate the engineers days later. Luckily the lack of clarity which existed concerning the rules on engineering pranks enabled the four engineers to successfully fight for their reinstatement and go forward with a lawsuit against the university.

If BOG accepts these recommendations, administration will suddenly have the "in writing" support and evidence they need to punish any and all students as they see fit. No matter how loudly the student body or public protests, or how unjust sanctions appear, administration will merely have to point to this motion for justification. Effectively, they will be creating their own lifetime get out of jail free card.

The term "discretion" is the root of this problem. Such a vague word cuts administration far too much slack, which could result in more erroneous decisions like the infamous engineering fiasco. You cannot give a body laws to enforce, while not imposing any rules on that body itself.

Do we really want administration to learn nothing from the September incident, other than the fact they can cut a few corners and put it in writing before they rule with an iron fist? How many more times do we want to see Western embarrassed on the pages of papers across the country for their unjustified actions?

Simply put, BOG cannot, in good conscience, pass these recommendations as "law." Administration cannot be given such blanket freedom to do as they wish. In the end, it would once again be students who suffer. However, in future cases those harmed will be left with no way to fight back or defend themselves.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999