Senate updates suspension and honorary degree policies

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

TRU aims to update policies every five years, but some haven't been updated since UCC became TRU. Latest updates refreshed the language regarding student suspensions and instituted the ability to revoke honorary degrees based on the conduct of the recipient. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

TRU aims to update policies every five years, but some haven’t been updated since UCC became TRU. Latest updates refreshed the language regarding student suspensions and instituted the ability to revoke honorary degrees based on the conduct of the recipient. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

TRU aims to update policies every five years, but some haven’t been updated in more than 20.

The most recent policy updates were passed at the Feb. 24 senate meeting on the recommendation of the Academic Planning and Priorities Committee. The policies pertained to student suspension and honorary degrees.

“It’s our intention at TRU that all the policies will get reviewed every five years,” said vice provost of open learning Gordon Tarzwell.

Policy ED 7-0, suspension of students, formerly called debarment, had not been updated since 1989, although the review date on the policy was April 1, 1991. Tarzwell explained that the changes updated the language of the policy to bring it up to date to TRU, rather than UCC. He said it shouldn’t have any effect on students.

“We were quite a ways behind in updating it,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is do it more frequently. Fortunately this one didn’t require a lot of changes. It’s one of those cases where we’re changing the policy to be consistent with practices.”

The policy no longer includes the ability to expel students. Tarzwell said expulsions occur at the level of the president, while suspensions can occur within the policy by someone other than the president.

“Part of it has to do with who can expel a student and who can suspend a student,” he said.

Policy ED 16-2, Honorary Degrees, was last reviewed and updated March 26, 2007. The senate voted to add a section to the policy that gives the institution the ability to revoke honorary degrees based on the conduct of the recipient. TRU can now revoke the degree before or after it is conferred if the university was “unaware of the conduct at the time that the decision to award the honorary degree was made.”

“We hope it never happens but if you think of the Governor General honorary degree or the Order of Canada, there has been three cases where the Order of Canada has actually been revoked because of actions by the recipient after they had received it,” he said. “The institution wanted to be able to in a situation where, if necessary, it could actually revoke an honorary degree.”

Honorary degrees are “the highest from of recognition offered by Thompson Rivers University,” according to the university’s website. They are given to recipients who have demonstrated “excellence, in Canada or abroad, in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, arts, humanities, business or philanthropy.” The achievements must also be “relevant and appropriate to TRU.”

Tarzwell said TRU gives out around five honorary degrees per year, usually one at every convocation ceremony.