Joey Coleman: Universities and Off-Campus Behaviour

Universities and Off-Campus Behaviour

As followers of my blog are aware, I am greatly concerned about Universities and their disciplinary codes. I am very concern about the amount of damage that a University can inflict upon students with little to no evidence. This is why, I am completely and totally opposed to Universities taking their jurisdiction off-campus where students have the same rights under the Charter as every other Canadian. We do not have two classes of citizenship in this country: regular and student. No, we have Canadian Citizenship. This is why I am concerned to read about the off-campus interference by Mt. Allison University in regards to off-campus behaviour in this week’s Argosy:
Dean of Students vague on Mt. A liquor policies
Cites off-campus parties also of concern

It starts with the following paragraph:

If the RCMP break up an off-campus house party, the student tenants of that house just might be called into the office of David Rowland, Mt. A’s new Dean of Students, to discuss issues of being a good neighbour. The RCMP have been e-mailing Rowland the names of the hosts of parties they break up, so that he may deal with them through the university infrastructure.

Now, I am not an expert on the legalities of all this but my gut feeling is that the RCMP is not authorized to go out and just had over information on cases that may go before the courts. That ‘s just my first thought. My second is that some of these individuals may be 17 and entitled to the protections from their offense being made public (in this case by giving information to Mr. Rowland who is not a member of a police force or branch of the government that is involved in the administration of justice) under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
I am also concerned about what appears to be the RCMP taking advantage of this to intimidate students. I believe that any Students’ Union that actually represents students (instead of just claiming to) should be getting their legal counsel to look into this to make sure it is legal and that students are not being held to a higher standard under the law than other citizens.
This paragraph really concerns me:

But for James Moran and Jason Forsey, two fourth-year students and tenants at 40 Charlotte Street, which hosted one of the many frosh parties last week, the tactic seems like a heavy-handed way of dealing with off-campus partying. The RCMP arrived to break up the party due to a noise complaint, they said, and proceeded to take down the names of the students who were hosting the party. Shortly thereafter, they received an email from Tina Warren, David Rowland’s secretary, asking them set up a meeting with the Dean of Students.
“He doesn’t want us to be a problem in the neighbourhood,” said Forsey. “He seems to be doing the right thing, but I don’t agree with his message.”
Moran was less impressed.
“It was like all he wanted to do was scare and intimidate myself and my roommates, he made me feel like he was out to get me, not like he was here to help me or act as a resource if I had any problems. He kept saying he was a student advocate but I just felt like he was out to get me,” said Moran. Forsey also said that he was threatened with being brought to judicial if they became repeat offenders.

My advice to students is simple, the title Dean of Students is just a title. They are not a advocate for students, just the person responsible for being Judge, Jury, and Executioner at many universities. This is why every Students’ Union should have a Student Advocate.
My last bit of advice, is to remember that you are always entitled to remain silent if you are unsure as to your rights when dealing with the police.
I am going to quote Wikipedia on the right to remain silent:

Canada
The right to silence is protected under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It protects an accused from answering questions that may be incriminating from the moment of arrest up until the accused is provided with legal counsel. Outside of this period there is no right to silence, which is often confused with the US right which persists after access to counsel is given.
The leading case on the right to silence was R. v. Hebert, which held that the accused cannot be tricked into divulging any information until they consult with a lawyer.

Now, I am commenting in generalities and this does not necessarily reflect on McMaster or UManitoba, the schools I attend.