When we left off our story, I had just been ordered to report to the Dean’s office to face unspecified allegations regarding my conduct in class. I was warned that “Failure to appear will result in further action under The University of Winnipeg Non-academic Misconduct Policy.”.I looked up the University’s policies on “non-academic misconduct” on the internet. You can find them here under "Regulations and Policies" You’ll see that Section 8a deals with academic misconduct: this is plagiarism, cheating, etc. Non-academic conduct is covered in Section 8b.
What is non-academic misconduct? The policy manual talks about the University being a community of scholars, and goes on about collegiality, fairness, learning environments and such, and finally defines non-academic misconduct as any “patterns of behaviour which,over time, cumulatively cause others to experience a perceived threat to their academic or social environment, or to their personal well-being.”
Unlike Academic Misconduct, where the rights of the accused and the appeal process are described in great deal, Section 8b is silent on these matters, referring the reader to the Registrar for further information. Significantly, we note that the crime of non-academic misconduct is defined not in terms of the actions of the perpetrator, but in terms of the perceptions of those actions by the supposed victims.
With no clear definition of the actual offense, and no procedures set out whereby I could defend myself, I felt it would be unwise to voluntarily take part in such a process without clear delineation of just what process I was being engaged in. So I replied to the Dean as follows:
I have consulted the University of Winnipeg Regulations and Policies document as posted on the internet and I am unable to find an reference in Section 8b as to how I can be asked to attend a meeting on this basis without some form of due process. If you can show me any reason based on University policies why I ought to attend such a meeting I will reconsider my position.
I was going to make sure whatever happened, the other side played by the rules.