London's law enforcement chiefs met criticism for their surprise information backchannel with Western at Thursday's Police Services Board meeting.
The new plan between police and Western University allows police to detail students charged with crimes to their school, so Western can punish the students themselves.
Executives from the University Students' Council attended the meeting with a spirited statement in hand — reading their remarks to the board and censuring them for forging the controversial agreement.
“Yesterday we had a council meeting where we have 46 councillors and our executive and associates there,” president Bardia Jalayer told the board. “We received over 40 minutes of questions from our councillors with concerns about this [agreement] and the reason they don’t know what’s going on, and this is something that I would like to bring to the attention of the police board."
The statement, which wholly rejects the memo, is a splinter in the tenuous partnership between the USC, Western University and police — its presentation to the board only emphasized their disagreement.
Before Jalayer read the remarks, the board opened its discussion of the memo. It was a brief but revealing back-and-forth, as the top city and police officials discussed the memo for the first time publicly.
Susan Toth, a lawyer and Brescia University College prof, began by admitting the agreement should have been debated publicly when it was first brought to the table in June, months before it was quietly revealed.
“This should have been immediately discussed at a public session when it was first placed before us, and I do want to apologize for that, that wasn’t done,” she said.
Toth said the board had been working closely with Western to clarify ambiguous language and address privacy concerns.
“Numerous changes were requested by the board to try to tighten the document and try to minimize those intrusions into privacy,” she said. “For example, we put in tighter restrictions on the length of time the university would be able to have these documents in their possession before they have to be destroyed.”
Toth emphasized the plan is a pilot project. Although students were not consulted in the original document, she encouraged students and other members of the community to now provide feedback.
She restated what Western and police have both said: that only students charged with serious offences will be pushed through the new private channel. The memo, however, says that any provincial or federal offence is covered.
Mo Salih, city councilor and the board's chair, said he was the only member of the board opposed to the agreement — and still cannot support it.
“I was the one member who did not support this. I can understand the intent of making sure we have a safer community and doing what we can,” he said. “For me, I just didn’t support it based on the information sharing and the privacy concerns.”
USC president Bardia Jayaler then stepped up to the microphone in the gallery, as it opened to community concerns after the meeting. He had been sitting with two other USC executives in the gallery throughout the meeting.
The chair welcomed him, congratulating the student government on planning Purple Fest as alternative programming for students the weekend of Fake Homecoming.
Jayaler read the entirety of the USC’s statement on the memorandum, published by the Gazette Thursday, renouncing the agreement for a lack of student consultation and infringement on privacy.
"The USC does not endorse this agreement, nor were we involved in the ideation or creation of this agreement," he said. "We are not comfortable with the precedent this agreement sets and the potential impact it may have on our students."