Student code to get an overhaul

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By Beatrice Politi

Ryerson’s student code of conduct is undergoing an image makeover.

The code, which outlines students’ rights and the consequences of violating the school’s policies, is being overhauled by a group of staff and students.  Published in Ryerson’s course calendar, the code was last updated in 1988.

“Awareness of the code by both students and faculty was low,” said registrar Keith Alnwick.

“There was certainly no particular circumstance that guaranteed a review.  We felt that it had been a long time since the code had been first instituted and that it would be appropriate to consider whether or not improvements or changes could be made.”

The code revision will try to set out clearer rules on acceptable behavior from students, said Alnwick.  He also wants the code to clarify procedures and give timelines for hearings and appeals.

The revision follows a first draft of changes presented a year ago that added and refined elements of the code.

Now the school is taking a comprehensive approach.  “This revision will be more from the ground up,” said Alnwick.  “We’ll be going into it with a blank slate.”

The work group will look at policies at other post-secondary institutions, including York, U of T and Guelph.  U of T’s codes on student conduct are almost 40 pages long, outlining offences, hearings and appeal procedures.

But Ryerson’s executive assistant Dennis Loney, who deals with appeals, doesn’t think a longer code is necessarily better.  “The code we have right now is student-friendly.  It’s short and it’s easy to understand,” said Loney.

“The ambiguity in the code works in that there is room for interpretation.  Too much specificity in the code can tie our hands … and remove space for compromise between parties involved in a dispute.”

Alnwick said a second draft should be available within two weeks for review.  Changes must be approved by academic council.

Alnwick hopes the new code will be in place by September, 1999, although he admits that may be optimistic.

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