2002 Code of Conduct Report

Report of the ad hoc Committee on a Code of Conduct for CUSID

In March 2001, the membership of the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID) directed the CUSID Executive to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate issues surrounding a proposed code of conduct for CUSID. This committee was established in September 2001. After deliberations amongst the committee, there was a general call for testimony and/or evidence from the CUSID community. This report is a summary of those deliberations and submissions.

First, the Committee recognizes that there is a significant amount of debate regarding the code of conduct and its implementation within the CUSID framework. There are many views regarding all aspects of the code of conduct including: whether such a code is necessary; what conduct should be included in the code; and what is the proper enforcement mechanism for the code.

Second, the Committee acknowledges that though no scientific study has been conducted to ascertain the need for a code of conduct, significant anecdotal evidence exists. This anecdotal evidence was described in the 2001 CUSID White Paper on Gender and Debating (Chairs: Katie Telford and Mike Jancik). That anecdotal evidence includes allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and assault. Moreover, the Committee recognizes that the current structure of CUSID is unable to prevent or punish such conduct.

Finally, the Committee warns that there are significant legal barriers that exist before a code of conduct may be implemented within the existing CUSID framework. Any proposal regarding such a code should be examined by a solicitor to ensure that it complies with all federal and provincial legislation.

The ad hoc Committee on a Code of Conduct for CUSID recommends the following:

    (a) CUSID should review the need for a code of conduct in Spring 2003, after the successful implementation of the Ombudsperson By-Law and a review of the CUSID Statement of Principles;
    (b) Any code of conduct should consist of the following components: a preamble describing the code’s purpose; a list of conduct prohibited at CUSID tournaments and by CUSID members; and an enforcement mechanism.
    (c) A draft of the code should be reviewed by a solicitor to ensure that it does engage any liability on CUSID’s part.

At least one member of the Committee feels that the potential problems that might arise from the implementation of a code of conduct would outweigh any possible benefits and may in fact create new problems. A code of conduct has the danger of attracting liability on CUSID’s part, an issue this organization may not be experienced enough to deal with. For example, a debater who has been sexually harassed at a CUSID tournament may sue the CUSID President or CUSID Executive if they feel their claim was improperly managed.

Ranjan Agarwal, Chair
University d’Ottawa

Greg Allen
University of British Columbia

Erik Eastaugh
University d’Ottawa

Megan de Graaf
Dalhousie University

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