On one hand, a student convicted of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was originally sentenced to one year of exclusion, which was suspended while the student was still at Rhodes. This was on condition that a similar offence was not committed in that time. In addition, the student was given 80 hours of community service. The case was reviewed and the suspended exclusion was extended to two years.
On the other hand, several students were convicted of possession of a cell phone during an exam - they all received two years suspended exclusion with 75 hours of community service. This is five hours more community service than the student who was found guilty of assault to do grievous bodily harm.
Another student, who allegedly wrote notes on their thigh, was sentenced to two years suspended exclusion with 75 hours of community service. A student found guilty of fraud was similarly sentenced.
"It is a message to our community that Rhodes takes academic matters very seriously, and that cheating of any kind will not be tolerated," said Dean of Students Dr Vivian de Klerk.
She also stated that while there are general guidelines and precedents, each case was handled on its own merits and "one simply cannot generalise". De Klerk added that a students' personal circumstances, prior disciplinary record, the severity of the offence and other factors will be considered in sentencing
De Klerk said that the disciplinary matters were handled by professional prosecutors and proctors employed by the University for this purpose and not by the Dean of Students' Office.
(Published in The Oppidan Press, March 23 2012)