In 2014/15, KCSU noticed an increase in the number/frequency of fines that students were receiving. We asked the Lay Dean to draft a document explaining the reasons for which students can get fined, so as to make the process more transparent. So here are the answers to all your discipline-related questions!
♥ KCSU Advice ♥ – If you ever feel you have been unfairly fined or punished, or if you need to report another student for misbehaviour (whether small or serious), you get in touch with someone at KCSU – like the President or Vice President – for help and advice. You can request us to act on your behalf and argue your case, if needed. We are here to represent you.
What things are students frequently fined for?
The most frequent infringements of College rules in recent years have involved:
- Disturbances to neighbouring residents, caused mostly by late night noise (11pm – 8am), some of which involves unauthorised parties
- Damage to walls and furniture
- The bringing of food and drink into the College Library
- Excessive or illegal downloading from the internet
Less frequent offences include:
- Unauthorised use of college keys and student rooms
- Leaving one’s room so untidy as to impede cleaning
- Misbehaviour related to smoking and alcohol
What should I do if someone is making a lot of noise?
The College prefers anti-social behaviour – notably, late night noise – to be handled in the first instance by having the complainant ask the alleged offender, in person and on the spot if possible, to quieten or cease the activity.
If that proves ineffective, or if the complainant is for any reason reluctant to act him/herself, s/he is encouraged to call the Porters’ Lodge and ask for a porter to intervene. The porters have the authority and the duty to order the cessation of any activity that breaches a college rule.
Alternatively, the offended student may raise the problem with the college nurse, their personal Tutor, or directly with the Lay Dean.
♥ KCSU Advice ♥ – Essentially, if someone is making a lot of noise which is disturbing your work or sleep, KCSU recommends that you go and talk to them in the first instance. If for whatever reason you can’t approach the person who is causing the disturbance, but would like not to call the porters yet, you can ask a friend / KCSU officer to approach them on your behalf. Most of the time, they’ll be really apologetic and will immediately quiet things down – at King’s we’re generally quite considerate of each other’s needs! When a student calls the porters on another student, the offender usually gets a £25 fine – something that many students don’t realise.
What happens if the porters are called?
When the porters encounter a violation of College rules, the matter is typically referred to the Lay Dean, who may require the student(s) involved, including both the alleged offender and the aggrieved party, to meet with him or her to discuss the incident.
The Lay Dean decides, in the light of the actions and the circumstances, whether to drop the matter, issue a formal warning, call for an apology, impose a punishment, or use some combination of these measures.
What is a formal warning?
A formal warning is often used for less serious offences committed by inexperienced students. In some cases, the punishment involves, and may be limited to, requiring a personal apology: the offender is to contact the student or staff member (e.g. bedmaker, porter) on the receiving end in order to apologise and discuss how repetition can be avoided.
What sort of punishments are imposed?
Punishment often involves the imposition of a fine, charged to the student’s College account at the end of term. The size of the fine depends on the nature and severity of the offence and the student’s disciplinary record. It may also be varied according to the student’s financial circumstances.
How much are students typically fined?
The typical fine (both mode and median) imposed on individual students (all offences) during the past six years has been £25; the maximum had been £200, the mean £27, and the minimum £8.
The more serious types of offence and repeat offences have occasioned fines of £50 or more. The few cases of high fines have involved drunken and violent behaviour.
Where does the money from fines go?
Fine payments are typically transferred to the Supplementary Exhibition Fund, which assists students with financial difficulties. (The SEF cannot however be used to pay fines imposed on students who receive financial assistance from the College.)
The payment is occasionally transferred in whole or part to a College department (e.g., housekeeping or maintenance) that has suffered, or to an individual (e.g., a porter or a cleaner) who has suffered, from the misbehaviour in question.
What about fines for damaging college property?
Damage to College property (e.g., cracking a washbasin, damaging a wall by using Blu Tac or Sellotape) tends to involve larger amounts than do fines, as students are in principle liable for the full cost of repairing any damage they do to College facilities, irrespective of their financial position.
If the student’s responsibility for the damage is limited, the compensation requirement is reduced accordingly. If carelessness, drunkenness or destructive intent is involved, a fine may be imposed alongside compensation.
Are there any alternative punishments to being fined?
Community service (e.g., unpaid work in the College Library) is occasionally imposed instead of a fine. It has the advantage in principle of being a more equitable method of punishment than are fines, as time is less unequally distributed across students than is income.
Its use is however restricted by the reluctance of college staff to take on the administrative burden of supervising for short spells the typically unenthusiastic student involved. Some of the students required to do such duties have not shown up for work, or shown up only once, and have had to be pursued, at the cost of staff time, which has typically culminated in the imposition or reinstatement of a fine. Health and safety regulations can also impede or prevent the use of students’ services in College operational areas.
In some cases, notably when disruptive behaviour in student rooms or harrassment of other students has been involved, a student may be required to move rooms and, in extreme cases, to move out of college accommodation entirely.
What if someone breaks the rules for use of the library/IT facilities?
The procedure differs somewhat when breaches of College rules involve the College library or IT system. For violations of Library rules, the Librarian is often the one to report the offence to the Lay Dean, leading to the procedure described above. In cases of multiple or repeated offences, the student may be suspended from using the Library.
IT offences, which mostly involve the overuse or misuse of ports in individual student rooms, typically see the Computing Officer disconnect the port immediately and refer the student to the Lay Dean. The schedule of punishments involves warnings, temporary port disconnections, and fines.
What happens in more serious violations, such as harassment?
Particularly serious violations of College rules, including physical violence and sexual misconduct, are subject to a more formal procedure, which, depending on the offence, may involve referral to a university procedure, operating through a Court of Discipline. (If criminal activity is involved, the case is referred directly to the police.)
Such offences potentially incur more severe punishment, including sending down (expulsion). The Code of Practice for Student Complaints is available to any student who wishes to appeal a Court’s decision. Failing that, and following completion of the College’s own procedures, the student may lodge a complaint with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
How frequently are people fined or punished?
Punishment for breaking College rules or damaging College property is not an everyday event in King’s. During the past six years, the number of fines, community service orders and compensation requirements has averaged 41 per year, and no case has been referred to a Court of Discipline.
At the same time, the Governing Body views the existence of sanctions for breaches of College rules as promoting responsible behaviour, social life and personal development within the College community.
Where can I find a list of the college rules and regulations?
The College’s rules and regulations are stated in Statutes and Ordinances, and in the handbooks distributed to students at the start of their first academic year (Information for Undergraduates, Information for Graduate Students).
Accommodation-related aspects are outlined on the intranet (for undergraduate and for graduate students), as are rules for use of the Library and IT facilities. There is also a college harassment policy, and sections outlining the procedure for student complaints.
The University’s rules, which also apply to particular issues, are set out on its website.