Editorial Board 2000-2001
The Student Code of Conduct is finally being tested by student opinion better late than never.
The Code, a tentative rulebook for on and off-campus conduct for Western students, has been a source of endless debate among the upper echelon of our university for nearly a year. Currently in its third draft it met with stiff opposition from student leaders at the Board of Governors, Senate and University Students' Council when it was displayed for public approval.
And now, as The Code nears a final review by Senate, the average students are finally getting their say. Yesterday, the ad hoc committee to review The Code held a public forum to solicit discussion from the student body and Western community. A fair number of students approached the committee with their thoughts and insight, but the actual discussion was strangely missing.
It is abundantly clear that the majority of students are poorly informed about The Code. Most students who approached the committee had questions or requests for information about it. Despite being posted on the Internet and being a hot topic among student leaders, the average student, the ones who will be most affected by The Code, still have little to no idea what it is or how it will impact them.
But such a problem should have been corrected months ago, when The Code was still in the initial stages. Student input and education should have been a priority from the beginning for those who assembled the document.
And seeking student opinion is more than just holding forums or giving an address where submissions can be sent. Input is nothing if it is not educated opinion. Both university administration and the USC should have been working and should be working endlessly now to educate the student body.
This begs the question: Have we simply run out of time to properly inform students and then solicit their thoughts? The deadline for input from the ad hoc committee is Apr. 9 at that month's Senate meeting. That leaves just over two months for students to receive a crash course in student justice, the rule of law and how to read the fine print. While university students can be quite adept at cramming for exams, teaching them everything about a code they have no previous knowledge of, is nearly impossible.
The blame for this predicament must be shared by the people who created The Code and the USC which decided to step in and stop it in its tracks. Administration approached The Code backwards, attempting to construct it and then seek input. The USC was right to call forward student input, but must not let these concerns come to them. Instead, they must actively seek it out.
Both sides have failed to act, and must now take the initiative to educate the masses. Otherwise, in the future, offending students may truly be able to claim ignorance of the law as a defence.