UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 9 | July
Bomb Threat Brings Two-Year Suspension
Addressing misconduct is part of teaching process and a commitment
to campus community.
By Hilary Thomson
Soon after Sept. 11 last year, a student called in a bomb threat
to disrupt an exam in the Henry Angus Bldg.
The building was evacuated, RCMP bomb squad and dogs were called
in and students who had prepared for the exam had to reorganize
their schedules to accommodate a postponement.
The call, made to 911, had been recorded and was played back to
the students scheduled for the exam. They recognized the voice,
which led to the culprit being suspended from UBC for two years.
"Students work hard to prepare for an exam and postponement
can cause significant inconvenience. They don't support this type
of behaviour," says University Counsel Hubert Lai.
"The campus community needs to know that we treat student
infractions seriously," he says. "Often the incidents
are disruptive and costly -- our aim is to be fair, thorough and
expeditious in resolving them."
Both academic and non-academic discipline incidents have inexplicably
increased -- more than doubling in four years. In the 1998/99 academic
year there were 27 student discipline cases and last year there
were 58. The nature of the cases does not vary significantly, however,
with more than three-quarters of cases involving academic discipline.
Non-academic discipline cases include property theft or damage,
assaults and harassment and usually are reported by UBC Campus Security
or the local RCMP detachment.
Academic discipline cases often involve plagiarism, much of it
from Internet sources. TurnItIn.com, a U.S.-based Web site, is a
resource available to any faculty member wishing to check the originality
of a student paper.
Cheating on exams or finding ways to avoid exams also brings academic
discipline, says Lai. Stress is the common thread that connects
"Some students feel an extreme pressure to perform which leads
them to take a chance out of desperation."
Alleged incidents are reported to the department head and dean.
Cases are forwarded to the President's Committee on Student Discipline,
which meets with the student to gather and hear evidence and forwards
recommendations to the president.
The six-person committee is drawn from a pool of 10 individuals
comprising faculty and students that is being expanded this year
to deal with the increased number of cases.
Each case is weighed on its own merits and factors such as prompt
confession and remorse are considered. President Martha Piper has
sole authority for issuing discipline and penalties can range from
reprimand to expulsion. A student may appeal the decision to a committee
of Senate whose decision is final.
"The student discipline process is meant to be a part of the
education process," Lai says. "It's one of the ways we
can teach students about what happens in the world."
More information on student discipline can be found at www.policy.ubc.ca/policy69.htm.