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Behaviour issues 0 

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:21:41 EDT PM

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Bad student behaviour off-campus should lead to on-campus discipline at Barrie's Georgian College, says Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth.

"I think the college needs to take some responsibility for what happens off-campus," she said. "Even if they are not on campus, there should be some academic consequences for their actions."

Councillors have agreed to ask college officials to investigate expanding Georgian's student code of conduct to include measures dealing with off-campus conduct, and the potential for academic consequences for misconduct.

Georgian's code of conduct dates back to 2000 and doesn't include off-campus behaviour, unless it's connected to the college activities - sports teams, student council, etc.

Michele Beaudoin, who's with student services at Georgian, says its code of conduct is being revised and off-campus student behaviour is being considered.

"I think the challenge that any college is going to face is where can you draw the line, and where do you draw the line, between what you're able to sanction or not sanction, given that this is really a private citizen issue," she said.

Beaudoin said the college would probably need legal advice before a new code could be approved.

Katrina Sutton, Georgian College's new student council president, said she supports the code of conduct applying to off-campus student behaviour.

"I think it would be a really good idea, because I know, right now, with the parties and that sort of thing, that go on in the east end, the mornings after ... it can be quite irritating for the family homeowners there," she said. "What goes on off-campus does reflect Georgian."

Student behaviour became an issue for Ontario colleges on St. Patrick's Day.

A riot in London, Ont., in which cars were set on fire and police were pelted with beer bottles, caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. Police have charged 19 people in connection with the March 17 incident.

Fanshawe College handed out interim suspensions to eight of its students for their alleged involvement in the riot.

Under Fanshawe's student code of conduct, the school can impose academic penalties on students whose off-campus actions could affect the health and safety of others in the community.

In Barrie the same night, city police received 40 calls for service near Georgian College, although there were no arrests.

Ainsworth, who represents the east end, said a resident told her that 100 people were fighting on Rose Street that night.

She says the London riots aren't connected to her request of Georgian about its code of conduct.

"Community colleges used to be just that. It was for people in the community to get an education in the community," she said. "Georgian has galloped past any resemblance of what used to be known as a community college and has students now enrolling from across Canada and from all over the world.

"The college will never be able to meet demands for student housing," Ainsworth added. "Off-campus housing is now becoming big business in our neighbourhoods with many absentee landlords showing little or no interest in their investment other than collecting the rent. The city and our community are left to pay for and deal with parking, exterior maintenance issues of homes as well as noise and behavioural violations, while the college and landlords sleep."

Beaudoin said the college hopes to have a draft of the new code of conduct by mid-May. But there is much to consider, including human rights, mental-health issues and personal privacy.

"The challenge we're going to face is what does that actually mean," she said. "What does it mean to sanction at all for anything that's off-campus? How severe does that have to be?

"The other side of the picture, if you are looking at it from a student perspective, is that the student obviously has certain personal rights and privacy rights, with respect to what goes on in their homes and their places of residence that are not connected with the college, and when they're on their own time," Beaudoin said.

"In the same way that a high school student would or an employee of a company would. So if you're home and you have something that goes on in the street or you cause a street commotion and problem, your employer doesn't sanction you. The high school doesn't sanction the Oro bush parties, the kind of thing that sometimes goes on with students."

Ainsworth said she didn't want poor light shed upon certain parts of her ward, or the people who live there.

She says the city's town and gown committee - which develops and enhances relationships, communication and policies between Georgian students, the city and the community - has talked about the college taking some responsibility for its students.

"Including something in their code to indicate that the college does care and expects a similar conduct in off-campus housing as it imposes on students living on their campus," Ainsworth said.

Beaudoin said most Ontario colleges don't have codes of conduct which cover non-college-related activities off-campus.

Some are looking at it, in light of the severe behaviour involving Fanshawe students, but it raises some basic questions.

"What's it mean to be severe? What is the type of thing you would sanction anybody for," she said. "We're already pushing it, in some way, saying we have any right to sanction people for their personal behaviour."

Students should get information about the code of conduct when they return to classes in the fall, Ainsworth said.

She also wants the college to provide a letter to council about how the code-of-conduct investigation went.


Summary of Georgian College's code of conduct:

It's 'to resolve through principles of fairness, complaints about the behaviour of college community members which jeopardize the good order, and proper functioning of the college, or endangers the health, safety, rights or property of college community members'.

Sanctions can range from an apology, warning and probation to suspension or dismissal.