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By Carly Yoshida-Butryn

Ryerson’s Senate toughened up the Academic Code of Conduct at the April Senate meeting despite lobbying from students and staff to change aspects they felt were too severe.

Some senate members say the administration wanted to beef up the academic code (Policy 60) after the recent spat of media attention surrounding the school’s academic integrity policing.

The policy now gives faculty and senate appeals committees the right to assign a higher penalty than the one originally recommended by the class instructor or department chair or director.

Rebecca Rose, Senate member and incoming VP Education for the Ryerson Students’ Union, said this part of the policy would not serve students well if they wanted to fight the charges.

“A student could be prepared to go to an appeal and they could be ready to fight one decision, and they get in there and they realize that the penalty has been upped and it’s a whole different ball game,” she said. “Unfortunately that’s something the university didn’t budge on.”

Dave Mason, head of the faculty association, supported the changes made to the policy but raised concern over the scale of punishment, saying it needed to be more gradual.

“The actual changes seem to be pretty reasonable,” he said. “But if there’s only a nothing or a very high penalty, that discourages people from making charges.”

He said that instructors are reluctant to bring cases of academic misconduct forward because the first level of punishment involves giving the student a zero on the assignment and a mark on her permanent record.

“Penalties need to have some more increments so that faculty are not discouraged from bringing forward charges,” Mason said.

Student Senate member Toby Whitfield added an amendment to the policy, which allows student representatives to serve on the committee that decides how to deal with cases of academic misconduct. Previously, student representatives weren’t on this committee.

“I’m a little wary that the procedure can be redrafted each year. I’m concerned that it could become a little confusing for students,” Whitfield said. “I think it’s important that there are students on the committee to communicate with students.”

Despite the issues with some of the changes, senate members say that the debate surrounding Policy 60 is nowhere near as heated as the one around the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, which returns to Senate next month.

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