The Ministry of Universities takes this Tuesday to the Council of Ministers the preliminary draft of University Coexistence Law in the second round, where it will foreseeably be approved, thus giving way to its parliamentary processing, as confirmed by Ministry sources to Europa Press. This draft Law, which replaces a Franco’s decree of 1954, It was already presented on May 25 in the Council of Ministers in first reading.
The document approved in May in first reading considers as very serious offense: hazing, plagiarism of End-of-Degree, Master’s or Doctoral Thesis, or harassment and sexual harassment, punishing offenders with expulsion from the university for between two months and three years or the loss of partial enrollment rights during an academic year.
The discrimination, documentary forgery, non-compliance with public health regulations, impersonating a member of the university community, or prevent the correct development of the electoral processes of the universityare also considered very serious offenses.
This future University Coexistence Law replaces the Regulation of academic discipline of the official Centers of Higher Education and Technical Education, a decree signed by Franco dating from 1954, this rule being, therefore, “unconstitutional” and “anachronistic”, thus giving rise to “legal problems”, according to Universities.
In addition, the Ministry directed by Manuel Castells ensures that said decree it had a clear “punitive nature”, as it included “disproportionate” sanctions and did not include “basic guarantees of the rights of students in the face of the offenses and sanctions that were stipulated.”
Serious and minor offenses
According to the draft of the preliminary project, Actions such as improperly seizing the content of exams are considered serious offenses; seriously deteriorate the works that make up the patrimony of the university; improperly use content and / or means of reproduction and recording of university activities subject to intellectual property rights; breach health and safety regulations; access without proper authorization to the university’s computer systems; falsify the results of an exam or work; and prevent the celebration of university activities.
Regarding the latter, Universities clarified that any escrache or boycott of an event held at the university will be considered a serious offenseBut when academic freedom and expression come into play, the cases will have to be assessed individually, as well as if acts are held to praise terrorism, anti-Semitism or Francoism, for example.
For all these serious faults, the sanction would be expulsion of up to one month from the university in which the offense was committedThis expulsion cannot be applied during the evaluation and enrollment periods, or it will be sanctioned with the loss of enrollment rights during an academic year of the subject in which the academic fraud was committed.
And they are considered minor offenses to access university facilities to which access is not authorized; act to copy the content of exams through fraudulent means that are not considered serious or very serious; use university services in breach of the established requirements of general knowledge; and carry out acts that do not seriously damage the patrimony of the university, the sanction being a “private reprimand”.
However, in the case of penalties for committing serious or minor offenses, the sanctioning body may propose a “substitute measure of a character educational the retriever”, such as participation in educational, cultural, public health, sports, university extension and institutional relations activities or other similar activities.
Regarding the prescription of offenses and penalties, very serious offenses will prescribe after three years, serious after two years and minor after six months. And the sanctions imposed for very serious offenses, for serious offenses and for minor offenses, shall prescribe, respectively, after three years, two years and one year.
The Law does not apply to teachers or private companies
The future Law only is applicable to students -Administration and Services Personnel (PAS) and Teaching and Research Personnel (PDI) are governed by the Workers’ Statute- and public universities -according to the Ministry, private universities will be able to develop their rules of coexistence based on the principles contained in the Law-, as established in the draft approved in May.
As established in the document, universities are attributed the power to punish disciplinary infractions of the student body, without prejudice to the financial or criminal liability that may arise from such infractions. In this sense, the titular person of the Rectorate will be competent to exercise disciplinary power, except in the case of minor offenses, in which the exercise of said authority may be attributed to the person holding a Vice-Rectorate.
Mediation as the central axis of the Law
In addition to classifying the faults, the Law puts mediation at the center of coexistence, establishing a double system of mediation mechanism and procedure as the main means of conflict resolution.
While with the mediation mechanism se seeks to channel a good part of coexistence conflicts Among the members of the university community, the mediation procedure is intended for the new disciplinary regime to be applied in a supplementary and residual manner.
That is to say, the disciplinary regime will only come into play in three cases: when the parties refuse to go to the mediation procedure; when the conduct on which the sanctioning file is seen is expressly excluded from that procedure (such as cases of harassment and gender violence, university fraud or destruction of assets); or when the parties cannot reach an agreement.
Also, according to the May draft, Universities will create a Coexistence Commission in charge of channeling initiatives and proposals to improve coexistence in the university, promote the use of the mediation mechanism and, in those cases where it is appropriate, process the mediation procedure as an alternative to the sanctioning regime. This Commission will have an equal representation of students, Teaching and Research Staff (PDI) and Administration and Services Staff (PAS).
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.