Minutes of the Fourth Meeting of the Student Discipline Committee held on 24 November 2003
Members: Dr J E Davies (Chair), J B C Blood, M Hutton, R M King, T
Longstaff, R J Mayo (ab),
J E Mutton, M Shuker (ab), Professor J B Thomas, R Warren
By invitation: D J Bunker, R J Kennedy, J M Town
In attendance: D L Wolfe
Apologies for absence: R J Mayo, M Shuker
The Minutes of the Third Meeting of the Committee held on 7 July 2003 were confirmed.
.1 University Policy on Student Behaviour
(DISC03-M2, Min. 18.1 refers)
It was reported that a policy statement had been agreed but not yet promulgated. It was suggested that a “User-Friendly” Guide for students be mounted on the web.
.2 Illicit Drug Use
(DISC03-M2, Min. 18.2 refers)
There had been no further progress.
.3 Amendments to Ordinance XVIII
(DISC03-M2, Min. 19 refers)
It was noted that Council had agreed amendments to the Ordinance as recommended by the Committee.
of Disciplinary Offences
(DISC03-M2, Min. 20 refers)
(i) The Committee was reminded that at its previous meeting it had identified bullying as a probable component of a number of offences which needed to be investigated further. The Registrar indicated that he had already asked the Harassment Panel to investigate Intimidation, and would now ask that the investigation be extended to cover Bullying.
A copy of the University’s Policy Statement on Harassment and Bullying is attached to the minutes.
The Committee received an analysis by date of offences committed in 2002-2003. This showed that the popular conception of offences clustering at the beginning and end of terms was inaccurate, as offences appeared to be fairly evenly spread.
It was noted that the majority of traffic fines were £10,and it was suggested that the cost of their collection was such that the minimum fine should be increased. The Security Manager was invited to consider this proposition.
.5 Penalties imposed by LSU
(DISC03-M2, Min. 20 refers)
A paper was tabled detailing disciplinary offences taking place in the Union Building and dealt with internally in the period 25 September – 22 November 2003.
It was AGREED that in future reports LSU would indicate which, if any, incidents had been referred to the Police and/or the University.
The Committee felt that the level of violence was clearly unacceptable, but appreciated the difficulty in taking disciplinary action when the victim refused to make a complaint or to give evidence. The Registrar referred to efforts being made by the Drink Action Group to moderate drinking, including changes to the structure of Hall Committees. Members nonetheless felt that both the University and LSU were complicit in promoting excessive drinking.
There was some discussion on the relationship between the University and the Police. The Police were apparently reluctant to take action in the case of incidents on campus, or of incidents involving students which took place off campus, sometimes expecting the University to take action following criminal behaviour, rather than pursuing the matter themselves. It was suggested that the Registrar and the Security Manager should seek a meeting at Chief Superintendent level to raise issues of concern and report back to this Committee.
The Registrar presented a paper detailing actions recommended to deal with current trends in student behaviour. He was concerned that a number of serious incidents had not been successfully prosecuted by either the University or the Police. As the earlier discussion indicated, the Police were reluctant to involve themselves in student issues. Unless the University itself were seen to be taking serious action following violent incidents, the University’s reputation could be severely damaged.
Actions were to be proposed in the following areas:-
· Security arrangements in and around LSU
· Investigation by the Harassment Panel of the intimidation of witnesses
· Widening the role of the Student Disciplinary Committee
· Greater clarity and guidance on appropriate levels of penalty
· Removal of Ordinances and Regulations Committee from discussions on Student Discipline
· Revisions to Ordinance XVII
The current paper referred to Ordinance XVII. Accordingly the Committee discussed and commented on the principle of proposed amendments as follows:-
.1 Creation of Specific Offences
It was AGREED that the following should be identified as specific offences:-
(i) Failure to provide evidence of identity to an authorised officer or employee of the University or of Loughborough Students’ Union who had identified themselves to the student;
(ii) Posing as another student by use of their ID card;
(iii) Carrying or storing knives or other offensive weapons;
(iv) Interfering with witnesses in an investigation;
(v) Failure to attend a hearing after being called as a witness;
(vi) Failure to attend an interview with Security.
.2 Automatic Suspension for Criminal Assault
The Registrar proposed that students in receipt of a police caution or conviction for a criminal assault in or around Loughborough, or when identifiable as a Loughborough student and therefore likely to bring the University into disrepute, should automatically be suspended either for the rest of the current academic year, or for the whole of the following session, dependent on the date of the caution or conviction. There was substantial discussion on the principle of automatic suspension without discretion and without an internal appeals process. It was suggested that students sometimes accepted a Police Caution as a simple means of achieving closure following an incident, and that there would need to be a major publicity drive to ensure that the implications of accepting a caution were understood. There was some further discussion as to the practicality of this proposal in regard to students in their Final Year, and it was agreed that in such cases a fine of £750 and a one-year ban on re-registration would be appropriate.
The LSU representatives suggested that this proposal might lead to the University being in the embarrassing position of seeking to waive its own Regulations in order not to impose a suspension in every case; for example where a promising student who had an otherwise exemplary record might be involved. The Chair remarked that the policy would rely on its even- handed application and that the Committee would, through its existing monitoring system, ensure this.
.3 Action in Case of Police Delay
The Committee supported proposals to allow the University to act notwithstanding delays in a Police investigation.
.4 Right of Appeal against a Penalty
The Registrar indicated that this was the least important of his proposals and, given the time available, there was limited discussion. Nonetheless there was no dissent from the proposition.
Members identified a further issue where they felt the Ordinance might be improved, suggesting that any member of the Student Discipline Committee (academic, lay, or student) be entitled to chair Disciplinary Hearings. It was AGREED that the Registrar should redraft his proposals in the light of the comments made prior to their presentation to Senate.
28. Disciplinary Offences
A summary of minor offences to date in the current academic year was noted.
29. Confiscation of University ID Cards
The Committee noted that the LSU Policy on confiscating University ID cards had caused some difficulty for Registry staff asked for replacement cards, and had led to students being denied access to hall and catering facilities for which they had already paid.
Whilst it was understood that such confiscation only took place in serious cases, it was nonetheless unacceptable for students to be deprived of access to the University facilities for more than a very short period of time. Accordingly LSU officers undertook to ensure that the University Student Records Office was advised of such confiscations on a daily basis.
30. Anti-Social Behaviour
Categories of Anti-Social Behaviour as identified by Leicestershire County Council were noted.
To be determined.
Author - D L Wolfe
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