Debate rages over Code
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By Jessica Leeder
Western emerged legally unscathed from this weekend's engineering "Movie Night" controversy, but the students body is awaiting the ramifications the cancellation could yield.
Chris Sinal, chair of the ad hoc Senate committee of the draft Code of Student Conduct and affiliate college senator, said the abrupt cancellation of last Saturday's event could set a dangerous precedent in terms of student life.
"If this sets a pattern, it will change the entire dynamics of student life on campus," Sinal explained.
He said it is important to remember the event was not cancelled because it violated the university's Code of Student Conduct, but because the university would be held liable if something went wrong.
"The issue at hand is that the university is interested in mitigating liability. The easiest way for them to avoid being sued is to cancel any event which would make them legally liable," Sinal said.
Roma Harris, Western's vice-provost and registrar, said if the event had progressed, it would have been subject to the Code. Harris added the Code has yet to be invoked by university officials.
Sinal said he wonders if the Code will ever be utilized.
"It's not that students are going to get screwed if the Code is implemented they're going to get screwed if the Code is never implemented because the university prefers to take preventative measures to intimidate students.
"Right now the Code is being used to prevent students from doing anything that has the potential of being legally bad for the university."
Despite this, Sinal noted, the cancellation of the "Movie Night" is the first time an incident like this has occurred.
"It seems that people have become distracted [from] the basic question of the engineering event they are viewing it as related to the Code, but the Code is a separate matter," Harris said.
"It has always been the right of the university to impose sanctions for what it considers to be inappropriate behavior. The Code simply makes transparent the kinds of behavior that are subject to punishment," she said, adding students should see the Code's transparency as beneficial.
Shelby Anderson, legal affairs officer for the University Students' Council said it is important for students to realize the Code is applicable to any student act, whether or not they are participating in a university-organized event on or off-campus.