Sender: Harinder Singh
These disciplinary regulations encompass a broad spectrum of “disciplinary offences”. Examples of which range from: Cheating in the final examinations, to involvement in criminal activities outside of campus. If a student violates these disciplinary regulations, the student would then be liable for a disciplinary offence.
However, BEFORE a student can be found guilty for a disciplinary offence, a disciplinary proceeding must be held against the student. In MMU, disciplinary proceedings are chaired before the Student Disciplinary Committee (“Committee”). During these disciplinary proceedings, the committee evaluates the evidence produced against the student for the disciplinary offence: Is there sufficient evidence to prove that the offence was committed?
Nevertheless, in the course of evaluating this evidence, and BEFORE the committee decides if there is sufficient evidence to hold the student guilty for the offence; this student HAS A RIGHT to make a ‘representation’ before the committee.
The right to make a representation in a disciplinary proceeding is a statutory right accorded by section 46(5) of the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (“PHEIA”). The ‘right to make a representation’ essentially means that you are allowed to defend yourself against the offence, before the committee.
You are entitled to argue before the committee on the evidence against you: For example, is the evidence sufficient to find you guilty for the offence, why not so? And also amongst other matters: you may provide your perspective of what had happened in the case. The committee must hear and take into consideration a student’s representation in relation to his or her disciplinary charge, before deciding on the offence.
Now, what is however unknown to a majority of MMU students is this: Parliament has through s. 46(4) PHEIA accorded every MMU student the right to be represented by another MMU student or employee in any disciplinary proceeding.
What this essentially means, is that in any disciplinary proceeding against you, you are allowed by law to have another MMU student or staff, argue before the committee on your behalf, on the disciplinary charge. The committee CANNOT stop you from exercising your right under s. 46(4) PHEIA, in having another MMU student or staff––of your choice––, argue the disciplinary charge for you.
Additionally, apart from arguing the charge, should you instead choose to plead guilty to the disciplinary offence: The MMU student or staff you choose to represent you; may also alternatively, mitigate the disciplinary punishment meted out, on your behalf.
“Mitigation” means to provide reasons before committee as to why should your disciplinary punishment be lessened. Reasons could include, for example: a good academic track record or financial constraints you may be facing.
To add, in the event that you are found guilty for a disciplinary offence, and you are dissatisfied with this decision of the committee: s. 46(7) PHEIA allows you to appeal further against the decision, to the Registrar General of Private Higher Educational Institutions.
In the upshot, in view of the above, it is sincerely hoped that the students of MMU are now better acquainted with their rights, and thus; abled better representation against any disciplinary charge preferred against them, for any case as it may so be.