November 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 44  

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Dalhousie looking for trouble if it tries to play cop


It’s something every university student does at some point. Sometimes parties get too loud, a ruckus is caused or damage is done. But most students are capable of partying within the boundaries of the law and even those who don’t rarely do anything warranting serious police action.

Which makes it all the more absurd that Dalhousie University is considering disciplinary action against students who party at their off campus home and have been too loud for their neighbours.

According to school officials, complaints from residents (including wealthy alumni), city politicians and the police is what led them to threaten firing students from their on campus jobs, taking away scholarships or even expulsion for rowdy behaviour.

However, the noise and partying isn’t coming from student residences administered by the university, rather, the students are living in privately rented houses. Logic would suggest the university doesn’t have jurisdiction or authority to reprimand students for actions totally independent of the academic environment.

Fortunately, it doesn’t appear Western students are likely to find themselves victimized by a similar authoritarian regime.

In fact, Western’s Code of Student Conduct states that the university “has no general responsibility for the moral and social behavior of its students, as if they were its wards.” The Code is specific in dealing only with actions that may cause harm to university members or the institution itself.

Attempts by Dalhousie to punish students for off campus behaviour — specifically behaviour not endorsed or associated with the university, its students’ council or any clubs — is arrogant and asinine.

Firing students from on-campus jobs or taking away scholarships because they kept the neighbours awake exposes Dalhousie to something far more risky than the ire of alumni: lawsuits. And lawsuits would be justified, given any university sanctions would be beyond Dalhousie’s proper level of authority.

That being said, we don’t condone any illegal activities perpetrated by the students, including something as relatively harmless as disturbing the peace. Punishment for breaking the law should be dealt with by the police. Either they don’t consider it a high priority or they are too busy dealing with serious legal infractions to do anything about it.

In fact, if these students’ actions are of such great detriment then the university should pressure the police to take action, not vice versa. It simply isn’t the university’s place to step in.



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