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Student Rights Centre

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About Us

The Student Rights Centre (SRC) is a service of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) offered to all undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Ottawa. 

We offer guidance and support to students who require information on University of Ottawa regulations and practices or who wish to appeal decisions made by the university administration. We also help students who wish to receive more information regarding their human rights on campus or who want to file a formal or informal complaint in that regard.

Branches

Our student rights advocacy branch includes individual representation as well as promoting and advocating for systemic barriers to be redressed. Individual student cases are carried out as a true collaboration, with all steps being taken with the student’s consent.

Our educational branch includes human rights, academic rights and appeals focused training for the general student population and student leaders.

Some of the most common cases seen at the Centre revolve around the following matters:

Formal and informal complaints of harassment and/or discrimination
Accusations of academic fraud
Requests for grade revisions
Withdrawals from a faculty or a program
Requests for retroactive withdrawal from courses
Exam deferrals
Reimbursements
Problems with a professor
Any other administrative issue: co-op, housing, etc.

If your problem, complaint or question involves the University of Ottawa, we are here to help!

Advocacy

Information On Appeals And Regulations

General Information

It is nearly impossible to appeal the result of an exam grade citing only medical reasons. In other words, it is more prudent not to write an exam if you are feeling ill. If you write an exam despite being aware that you are sick and obtain a low grade, it will be very difficult to obtain permission to write a supplemental exam. If you were unaware of your illness or disability at the time of the examination, and have medical documentation to that effect, your appeal may be successful.

Carefully consult your exam schedule. Making a mistake when checking your exam schedule is not a valid reason for obtaining a supplementary examination.

University Regulations Regarding Exam Deferrals or Late Submission of Assignments

The University Senate has adopted a University-wide policy on the justification of absence from an examination or of late submission of assignments (see section I-9.5). You can also find more university regulations pertaining to examinations by looking at sections I-9.2 to I-9.8.

*Note that if your absence from any graded requirement is not foreseeable, you are required to provide a medical certificate or proof of extenuating circumstances within five working days. This certificate must bear the date of the missed examination or assignment – in other words, you must obtain the note on the day of the missed exam or assignment.

Adapted Exams

The SASS-Academic Accommodations (SASS-AC) service arranges accommodations for students with a disability. This includes the provision of adapted exams. For example, with medical documentation in hand, SASS-AC can grant a student the opportunity to write an exam in a silent room, with the help of specialized computer programs, etc. depending on the disability. Students must register with SASS.

Please visit the SASS website to learn more on the registration process and the required documents.

Faculty Regulations or Additional Information

In addition to University Regulations, faculties sometimes provide additional information or have more specific regulations regarding exams. In the case of a conflict between the University regulations and the regulations of your faculty, the University regulations trump.

Consult your faculty or school regulations here:

Arts

Civil LawRegulations pertaining to the Civil Law Section of the Faculty of Law are only written in French.

Common Law

Engineering

Management

Medicine

Science

Social Sciences

A request for grade revision is a request for another professor to re-evaluate your work.

Here is the official University of Ottawa regulation on revision of grades and appeal

If you request a grade revision, keep in mid that you may receive a higher mark, a lower mark, or a mark of equal value to the original mark.

You may only request that a particular exam or assignment be reviewed. It is not possible to request the revision of a final grade, as your course’s final grade encompasses distinct evaluations.

Thus, requesting a grade revision is not always the most appropriate way to solve certain problems. In fact, in many cases, a grade revision is of little use to a student; i.e., if you were misinformed by your professor regarding the material that was subject to examination, if you found the examination format unfair, if you did not receive your accommodations during the exam, etc. If your problem would not be solved by a grade revision, we suggest you write to the Chair of the Department or to the Academic Unit of the course in question in order to discuss the situation and offer alternative solutions to the problem at hand. You can also book an appointment with one of our Student Rights Advocates to discuss your case.

Where do I start?

Before requesting a grade revision, you must discuss the grade with the professor who awarded it. At the Student Rights Centre we have found that many cases can be solved quickly and efficiently when students approach their professors first.

How long do I have to file my request?

For all assignments received on or before the last day of classes, you must file a written request within ten (10) working days after receiving the grade in question. You must quickly discuss the grade with your professor as the ten business day deadline continues to apply despite any attempt at/or delays in reaching your professor.

For all grades received after the final day of class, you must submit your request within TEN business days following the day the grades became official. The date can be found on the university calendar.

What must I provide to file an appeal for grade revision?

Your request for grade revision is essentially a letter in which you must state the following:

  • The course title;
  • The course syllabus;
  • The grade assigned;
  • The name of the professor having assigned the grade;
  • The grounds for appeal. This requires for you to be as specific as possible. Saying as a sole argument that you are used to receiving higher grades or that you worked hard is not convincing. Preferably, refer to specific parts of your work and debate the validity of your answer/work in reference to the grading scheme, if it is available;
  • You must also provide the graded version of the assignment or exam in question, if it is within your possession (don’t forget to make a photocopy for your records!);
  • Any other relevant documents.

To whom do I send my letter of appeal for grade revision?

Your appeal must be sent to the Chair of the Academic Unit offering the course. When writing your appeal, keep in mind that the Chair or its delegate will send your appeal to the professor in question and ask for their comments. Another professor will then be assigned to review your work. Based on all documents provided, the Chair then determines the grade to be assigned.

Can I appeal the Chair’s decision?

The Chair’s decision can be appealed to the Senate Appeals Committee within ten (10) working days. This being said, the Senate Appeals Committee cannot change a grade. At that level of appeal, you would have to argue that the grade revision procedures were not followed by the Faculty, and that another review is warranted. In other words, even if you win a grade revision appeal at the Senate Appeals Committee, it is not guaranteed that your grade would ultimately be changed. Refer to our section on this specific committee to know how to proceed.

First, consult the Regulation on Academic Fraud. This regulation applies to all faculties of the University of Ottawa.

Our FAQ section on academic fraud will also answer many of your questions.

Here is a general description of the procedure that is followed in cases where academic fraud is alleged:

As of May 2020, there are three processes available to treat academic fraud at the University of Ottawa: the educational approach, the accelerated process and the regular process.

When a professor suspects an undergraduate student of having committed a minor academic fraud, he can choose to deal with the case himself, following the educational approach. 

Following the educational approach, a professor cannot impose a sanction that would result in a lower overall course grade by more than 10%. Other sanctions include redoing the work, a written warning or other similar measures. If you aren’t sure whether or not your professor imposed an appropriate sanction, or if the process was handled correctly, contact us right away.

In all other cases, the professor must send a detailed report to the Dean of the faculty offering the course.

The Dean or their delegate will study the professor’s report and decide if there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the allegation is founded. If this is the case, you will receive an email informing you of the allegation.

Attached with this email, you should be provided a copy of all documents used in bringing forward the allegation. Over the years, the SRC has seen cases where students were not provided with all of the evidence being used against them. If you are facing a similar situation, please contact us immediately.

In many cases, students will be given the opportunity to opt between the “accelerated process” and the “regular process.” Students have five business days to inform the administration of the process they choose to follow. Students who had previously been accused of academic fraud are not eligible for the accelerated process. Students who are alleged to have committed an offence serious enough to merit the most serious sanctions (sanctions 2(h) to 2(m) of the Policy on academic fraud) are also not eligible for the accelerated process (examples: sending another student to write an examination in your place, falsifying data at the graduate level, breaking and entering to gain access to exam questions, trying to gain unauthorized access to a computer system in order to change academic results, etc.). Lastly, if the allegation concerns more than one student you will not be eligible for the accelerated process.

Accelerated Process

It is very important to note that students who choose the accelerated process recognize that they have contravened, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the policy on academic fraud and as such, a sanction will be imposed on the studentThe accelerated process is equivalent to recognition of guilt.

If a student has chosen the accelerated process, a meeting will be arranged between them and the Dean or their delegate (often the vice-dean, academic). During this meeting, the student will be asked to explain the situation and the Dean or their delegate will impose a sanction. As a student, you have two business days to decide whether or not to sign the agreement and accept the proposed sanction. You may, of course, choose to sign this agreement right away during the meeting. If you sign the agreement the sanction will be applied immediately, the agreement kept in your file, and the case will be concluded. A copy of the signed agreement will be sent to the professor teaching the course where the allegation arose and to the director of the academic unit.

The accelerated process should take no more than 15 working days from beginning to end.

Should you choose not to sign the agreement proposed in the context of the accelerated process, the regular process will follow. You should note that the administration can also put an end to the accelerated process (see section 15 of the regulation).

In such a case, the fact that you had originally opted for the accelerated process should not be divulged to the members of the Committee of Inquiry who will then study your case and render a decision. As such, the Dean or their delegate with whom you met in the context of the accelerated process will no longer be involved in the case.

Regular Process

Should you opt for the regular process or if the accelerated process fails, you will have the opportunity to respond to the faculty’s allegation within ten (10) business days. If you wish to request help from the Student Rights Centre in writing your response, please book an appointment as soon as possible.

In addition to your official response, you will be able to meet the Committee of Inquiry in order to answer their questions and add your own clarifications. You may also choose not to meet the Committee. The role of the Committee of Inquiry is to determine if the allegation is founded, and if so, to recommend a sanction.

Within ten (10) business days following the Committee of Inquiry meeting, you will receive the Committee of Inquiry’s report indicating their recommendation. You will then be given the opportunity to submit your comments concerning this report and the recommended sanction, within a time frame of ten (10) business days. The Executive Committee of the Faculty will then study your written response and the sanction recommended by the Committee of Inquiry in order to make a decision.

The Executive Committee’s decision is the faculty’s final decision. This being said, note that sanctions 2(j) to 2(m) are imposed by the Senate Appeals Committee upon the recommendation of the Faculty.

Following the Executive Committee’s decision, you may submit an appeal to the Senate Appeals Committee within ten (10) business days. Refer to our section on the Senate Appeals Committee for more information.

The Senate Appeals Committee (SAC) is the highest level of appeal for individual cases at the University of Ottawa. Decisions taken by the Senate Appeals Committee are final and without appeal. The Committee has the power to overturn a faculty’s decision. 

To begin, consult the Committee’s Terms of Reference and procedure. In order to bring your case to the attention of the Senate Appeals Committee, you must have already received a decision from your faculty. Your appeal must be submitted within ten (10) business days following the faculty’s decision.

When appealing to this Committee, it is important for your letter of appeal be clear and for the facts outlining your individual situation to be organized chronologically. Your letter is the first document the Committee members will see, and they do not know you personally, nor the context surrounding your situation. Remember that the Senate Appeals Committee is made up of professors and students belonging to various faculties.

As indicated in the Committee’s procedures, the Senate Appeals Committee does not have the power to change a mark or a grade. If your appeal concerns a grade review and has made it to the Senate level, you are essentially there to argue that your Faculty’s revision of your grade was insufficient, invalid and/or unjust. In such cases, a successful outcome would usually be to be granted the opportunity for another review to take place.

The SAC process is done in three steps. First the student submits their appeal, then the Faculty whose decision is being appealed has fifteen (15) business days to provide their comments regarding the case, and finally, the student has fifteen (15) business days to submit a final response.

Following these steps, the appellant will be invited to attend a hearing with the Senate Appeals Committee. The Committee meets every other Friday morning. While you will be allowed to add new information that is pertinent to your case, Committee members will have already read all of the documentation pertaining to your appeal. For this reason, you are not expected to give a presentation or repeat information that is already in your file. Rather, your role is to answer the Committee’s questions. Once you have answered the Committee’s questions, you will be asked to leave the room. The Committee will discuss your case and usually make a decision that day. The decision is communicated to you via email the following week.

As of March 2020, the members of the Senate Appeals Committee are:

Denis Boivin (Chair)
Ilya Ioshikhes
Robert Laganière
Mike Newman
Patrick O’Byrne
Valerie Steeves
Karl Racine
Michael Wigginton

Please note: In order to guarantee the integrity of the appeals process, it is important not to contact the members of the Senate Appeals Committee before your case has been heard.

In order to pursue a program of study within your Faculty, you must respect certain pre-established conditions. The University has established general regulations applicable to all undergraduate students. See section 11 of the academic regulations for more information on the averages to maintain in order to remain in good standing with your faculty.

Can I appeal my mandatory withdrawal?

Yes. In the majority of cases, students who win the appeal of their mandatory withdrawal are put on academic probation.

To successfully appeal your withdrawal, you must convince your faculty that an exception to the regulation is, in your case, justified.

When preparing your appeal, asking yourself these questions may be helpful:
Why were you unable to meet your faculty’s required average to remain in good academic standing?
Did you fall ill?
Did problems arise within your personal life or did you experience exceptional circumstances?
What measures will you implement to improve your average, if you are given a chance to remain in the Faculty? 

Remember that your appeal must be submitted within ten (10) days following the email informing you of your withdrawal.

You may also refer to our resources page to see a template for a mandatory withdrawal appeal.

To make a request for reimbursement you must first write to your faculty. The contact person for reimbursement requests changes from faculty to faculty, therefore please contact the Student Rights Centre to know where to send your request. In most cases, the request relies on exceptional circumstances that have prevented the student from recording their withdrawal before the course withdrawal deadline.

If you are not satisfied with the decision of your faculty, you can then submit an appeal to the Financial Services Appeal Committee within 10 working days of the date you received the decision from your faculty. Here are the applicable rules regarding an appeal at with Financial Resources. In order to submit an appeal to the attention of the Financial Services Appeal Committee, you must do so via the appeal application in UoCampus.

Since May 2019, the Committee’s criteria is that if you benefited from any services at the University of Ottawa during the time period for which you are asking for a refund, you are not eligible for a refund. Please contact us should you believe that your circumstances warrant a refund despite having benefited from services.

To obtain a copy of your official academic transcript, you must be acquitted of all pending debt on your account. You can obtain an unofficial transcript for free through uOzone.

Is it possible to modify what appears on your academic transcript?

Under normal circumstances, it is impossible to modify what appears on your academic transcript. For example, if you fail a course, but pass it the second time around, only your passing grade will be calculated within your CGPA, but the original ‘F’ will nonetheless remain on your transcript.

That being said, some appeals requesting for courses to be retroactively dropped from a transcript have at times been granted by the University. For example, if a student’s academic performance was unknowingly affected by a disability that had not yet been diagnosed, a request for retroactive drop may be successful, if medical documentation is provided. Generally speaking, requests for retroactive drop are not successful if you were aware of the circumstances affecting you and chose to continue your studies. Requests for retroactive drop are exceptional, if you are thinking of making such a request we encourage you to book an appointment with a Student Rights Advocate to discuss your case.

If you are experiencing a problem with a professor or a member of the University personnel, there are many ways to resolve the situation. In most cases, it is usually recommended that you begin by bringing your concern to the professor or member of personnel directly. It is often most efficient to solve your problem in this informal manner.

If your problem concerns a professor, it may be a problem involving yourself as an individual, or a problem affecting the entire class.

If your problem with the professor involves only you, you may communicate with the professor with the help of the Student Rights Centre if you do not feel comfortable communicating with the professor on your own.

If your problem with the professor involves the entire class, we suggest you begin by speaking to your professor. If you speak to them in person, we suggest you invite your classmates to the meeting. You may also choose to write to your professor. Moreover, we suggest you write this letter in conjunction with other students.

If you have attempted to resolve the problem informally, without success or with unsatisfactory results, you may always address your complaint to the professor’s supervisor, either in a formal or informal manner.

In the case of a complaint against a professor, we suggest that you decide whether to address your complaint to the Chair of the department of the course in question and/or the Dean of the faculty concerned. Whereas the Chair of the department often has the means to address a problem more informally, the Dean is the professor’s employer and as such has the power to investigate and potentially discipline the professor.

In such a case, your complaint must be submitted in writing. If possible, have the letter signed by as many concerned colleagues and classmates as you can.

Will my professor know I have signed a complaint against them?

Members of the administration have the obligation to preserve the anonymity of complaint signatories. When the Dean of a faculty (or any member of the administration) communicates a complaint to a professor, all information pertaining to the student’s identity is blacked out.

However, within the context of certain complaints, it is impossible to preserve a student’s anonymity. For example, if your complaint concerns a specific act or transgression to which you alone were subject, the Dean will ask your permission to reveal your identity to the professor.

What can I expect if I lodge a student complaint?

Many students frustratingly find that no measures are taken to remedy their problem after they lodge a complaint. However, we encourage students to file complaints because it is important for the University to know when problems occur. Furthermore, you may not know if complaints regarding the same situation or professor have been filed in the past which could have an important impact on the outcome of your complaint.

In the case of student complaints, patience is therefore the golden virtue. Keep in mind that if your complaint involves a professor’s failure to adhere to their obligations, the Dean must respect the procedures outlined in the professor’s collective agreement.

The University regulation on the normalization of grades (the famous “bell curve”!) is found at section 9.1 of the academic regulations and reads as such:

“The use of a predetermined distribution (statistical or otherwise) in order to determine the assignment of marks is contrary to the principles of evaluation endorsed by Senate.

Faculties must take appropriate measures to ensure that members of the teaching staff assign marks which accurately reflect the definitions of student performance established in the official grading system.

When a faculty deems that the assignment of marks in one or several courses is not in accordance with the official grading system or with the faculty guidelines for its implementation, the faculty can take any corrective action required, provided however that no such measure result in a mark lower to that previously communicated to a student.”

Notice that the regulation clearly prohibits that a grade be lowered by bell curve after it was communicated to you.

The University of Ottawa Ombudsperson’s Office is an impartial, confidential service, independent of all existing University and student administrative structures. The Office draws its independence from its funding structure, which is split in two between the University and the student unions.

The ombudsperson serves everybody in our university community. They provide advice, assistance and information on how to resolve a problem or a conflict. They also have the power to review decisions made by the Senate Appeals Committee to determine if the decisions were made fairly. They do not have decision-making power but can make recommendations regarding cases heard by the Senate Appeals Committee or regarding systemic issues on campus.

What is the difference between the Student Rights Centre and the Ombudsperson’s Office?

The SRC offers advocacy services to students, meaning that we not impartial. In fact, we are necessarily partial in favour of students, similarly to how a lawyer would represent their clients’ interests.

Whereas both our office and the Ombudsperson’s Office can provide information regarding university regulations and structures, the Ombudsperson’s Office may refer you to the SRC if you require help in filing an appeal or a complaint. If you aren’t sure which office might best be suited to help you, give either of us a call!

Information On Human Rights Issues And Complaints

Your human rights are protected by provincial legislation and university regulations. Namely, as a student you are entitled to equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. Wherever you feel your right to be free from discrimination or harassment has not been respected during your studies at the University of Ottawa, the Student Rights Centre is here to help.

The following aims to inform you of your rights as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), link you to university regulations and give you more information on applicable definitions.

Enacted in 1962, the Code protects people in Ontario against discrimination. The Code applies to the following social areas: membership in vocational associations and trade unions; contracts; employment; housing; goods, services and facilities (this last area applies to schools, colleges and universities).

There are seventeen grounds of discrimination:

  • Age;
  • Ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin;
  • Creed;
  • Disability (including mental health and addictions);
  • Family status, marital status (including single status);
  • Gender identity;
  • Gender expression;
  • Receipt of Public assistance (in housing only);
  • Record of offences (in employment only);
  • Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding);
  • Sexual orientation.

In Ontario, human rights legislation is remedial to the situation for the person or group discriminated against. The Code grants civil remedies, not criminal penalties.

Ontario’s Human Rights System comprises:

The University has established an internal process for dealing with complaints of harassment and discrimination.

Policy 67a on the prevention of harassment and discrimination is the overarching policy for our campus. It includes the University’s policy statement and important definitions.

Procedure 36-1 Complaints of Harassment/Discrimination initiated by students is the “how to” for students to complain. It includes detailed explanations of your options to file a formal or informal complaint.

Complaints under the University policy are filed with the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Office. If you require help or guidance in filing a complaint with the Human Rights Office, please book an appointment, we will be glad to help you.

The University has an official policy regarding sexual violence on campus. It also has resources for survivors and mechanisms to report sexual violence. To learn more, visit the University’s website on sexual violence.

If you have been subjected to sexual violence, we are here to listen, help you with a complaint should you wish to make one, and/or refer you to the appropriate resources.

Discrimination means making a distinction between certain individuals or groups based on a prohibited ground of discrimination as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Whether intentional or unintentional, it is a differential treatment for which there is no reasonable justification, which imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantages to individuals or groups protected by the Code.

Discrimination always involves an action, and can take many forms; direct discrimination happens for example when an individual is expressly denied a service based on a protected ground (ex: ancestry, creed, disability…). Systemic discrimination occurs when policies or established practices exclude, limit or restrict members of designated groups from opportunities. Indirect or “adverse effect” discrimination occurs when seemingly fair policies unintentionally have a discriminatory effect. 

More descriptions and examples of discrimination are available on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website.

Harassment as defined by the Code is a form of discrimination based on protected grounds. It designates unwanted physical or verbal conduct reasonably understood as offensive or humiliating. This behaviour can create a negative or hostile living and learning environment (“poisoned environment”), which can interfere with your studies.

Harassment is generally a “course of conduct”; a pattern of behaviour involving more than one incident. A single incident may be categorized as harassment, though this is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Confidentiality

All dealings with the Student Rights Centre are confidential.

We obtain your consent for the disclosure of your personal information to any third party including the University of Ottawa. For example, if you wish for a Student Rights Advocate to assist you in pursuing an issue, you will be asked to provide consent any time an action is taken that requires us to contact the University.

An individual may withdraw consent at any time, but the withdrawal cannot be retroactive.

Limits to Confidentiality

Duty to Warn:

In cases where there is reasonable and specific indication that a client poses a threat to themselves or to others, the SRC has a duty to inform appropriate services. Where there is an imminent suicide risk, a medical referral or hospitalization may be instituted. If the client is considered to be dangerous to others, Protection Services, the police and/or a threatened person(s) may be informed. The supervising Commissioner at the University of Ottawa Students’ Union must be informed of such an incidence.

Child in Need of Protection:

In cases where there is reasonable indication that a child may be in need of protection, the SRC has a duty to inform appropriate authorities and the parents of the child, unless this poses a threat to the child.

Legal Proceedings:

Upon due receipt of a subpoena or court order, the SRC is obliged to divulge the requested information. Upon receipt of such a request, care will be given to clarify what specific information is needed so as to avoid unnecessary disclosure.

Resources

View the following video for an introductory training on undergraduate student rights. For more information on training sessions offered by the Student Rights Centre, please email us!

Ontario Human Rights Commission: Information and publications for the prevention of discrimination and advancement of human rights.

Human Rights 101: Ontario Human Rights Commission online training

Your Legal Rights (Human Rights Section): this project of CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario) offers free legal information for people in Ontario. The project is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario.

Human Rights Legal Support Centre: Legal advice and services for individuals who wish to file a discrimination or harassment complaint.

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: External complaint resolution through mediation, or rulings where parties are unable to reach a resolution through settlement.

Resources in Mandarin

What is plagiarism?

Essentially, plagiarism is copying. In North American universities, if you copy or plagiarize in your essays and homework, you are subject to punishment by the University because it is considered cheating [1]. We have met many Chinese students who accidentally committed plagiarism and who told us that they were unaware of or had trouble understanding this concept because it is not a part of Chinese education [2].

Why, how?

Fundamental philosophical differences between the East and the West help us better understand the root of this issue. In Eastern view, ideas belong to everybody or to society as a whole [3]. In Western view, individual people have a property right to their own ideas: it is believed that “people have a natural right to the products of their brain”. [4]

What this concretely means for you as a North American university student is that you are expected to follow strict referencing rules when you write papers or assignments. Since ideas are believed to belong to other people, references allow your professors to know whose ideas you are drawing upon. It is not disrespectful to indicate your source; to the contrary, failing to do so is considered an ethical breach.[5]

The University of Ottawa has published a guide to show you the proper use of references [6]. We have translated it to Mandarin.

The University punishes plagiarism

Many students mistakenly believe that they are properly referencing their sources. Ask your professors for their help before submitting your homework, visit a mentoring centre in your faculty, or visit the University Academic Writing Help Centre.

Under the current system at the University of Ottawa, even if you make an honest mistake in your references, you are still guilty of plagiarism. Your professor may choose to make a formal accusation against you and you will be asked to explain yourself to the university administration. You will be subject to punishment. The punishments most often imposed are failure for the work or for the course (a grade of “F”) but the university has the power to impose harsher sanctions going all the way to expulsion. If you commit plagiarism a second or third time, the sanction will be more severe.

Students have rights

If you receive an email from the university informing you that you are being accused of plagiarism or any other type of cheating, know that you have rights as a student in this process. Our role is to help defend your rights, so contact us right away if you need help.

[1] “Academic Regulations Explained.” University of Ottawahttp://www.uottawa.ca/academic-regulations/academic-fraud.html

[2] Pfeifer, Maura. “Root Causes of Plagiarism for International Students from China.” The Cambridge Network, 12 July 2016, https://www.thecambridgenetwork.com/root-causes-plagiarism-international-students-china/

[3] Idem.

[4] Roy, Alpana. Intellectual Property Rights: A Western Tale. Asia Pacific Law Review, 16:2, 219-239, 2008,

[5] Bradshaw James, and Tamara Baluja. “Why Many Students Get a Failing Grade in Academic Integrity”. Globe and Mail, 2 Sept. 2011, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/why-many-international-students-get-a-failing-grade-in-academic-integrity/article4199683/

[6] “Says Who? Integrity in Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism” University of Ottawahttp://sass.uottawa.ca/sites/sass.uottawa.ca/files/plagiarism.pdf

 

中国文化背景下学生所特有的重要问题

什么是剽窃?

本质上,剽窃就是抄袭。在北美的各大学中,如果你在论文和作业中有复制或抄袭行为,你就会被大学惩罚,因为这被认定为作弊 [1]。我们遇到了许多无意间进行抄袭的中国学生,他们告诉我们,他们不知道或者不理解这个概念,因为在中国教育中这不是一个十分强调的问题 [2]。

为什么出现这个问题?是怎么回事?

了解东西方之间在哲学观念上存在的根本差异,将有助于我们更好地理解这个问题的根源。在东方看来,思想属于每一个人,也属于整个社会 [3]。但在西方看来,个人对自己的思想有一种财产权:人们相信“每个人对自己大脑的产品都拥有天生的权利”。[4]

作为一名北美高校的学生,对你来说,这意味着你在写论文或作业时必须遵循严格的引用规则。因为思想被认为是属于别人的,所以给出引用来源说明就可以让教授知道你利用了哪些人的思想。对你的资料来源加以说明,并不是一种不尊重的行为,恰恰相反,如果不这样做就会被认为是违背道德的。[5]

渥太华大学出版了一本学生指南,介绍如何正确使用参考文献 [6]。我们已将其翻译成中文(链接)

大学对剽窃的惩罚

许多学生相信自己恰当地引用了资料的来源,但实际做法中仍有错误。因此,在提交家庭作业之前,请向你的教授寻求帮助,或向你所在学院的辅导中心咨询,或者访问“大学学术写作帮助中心”(University Academic Writing Help Centre)。

在渥太华大学的现行制度下,即使你在引用中犯了一个诚实的错误,你的行为仍属于剽窃。你的教授可能会选择对你提出正式指控,大学管理层将要求你作出解释,你将受到相应的惩罚。最经常实施的惩罚是给予作业或课程不及格(F等级),但大学有权对你进行更严厉的惩罚,直至开除学籍。如果你第二次或第三次出现剽窃行为,惩罚将更加严厉。

学生的权利

如果你收到一封来自大学的电子邮件,告诉你你已被指控犯有剽窃或任何其他类型的作弊行为,你需要了解你作为学生面对这个问题所拥有的权利。我们的职责是帮助维护你的权利,所以如果你需要帮助,请立即联系我们。

[1] 术规则解释,渥太华大学,http://www.uottawa.ca/academic-regulations/academic-fraud.html

[2] 费菲(Pfeifer),莫拉(Maura),来自中国的国际学生抄袭的原因,《剑桥网络》(The Cambridge Network),2016712日,https://www.thecambridgenetwork.com/root-causes-plagiarism-international-students-china/

[3] 同上。

[4] 罗伊(Roy),阿尔派纳(Alpana),识产权:一个西方的故事。《亚太法律评论》,16:2219-2392008年,

[5] 布拉德肖詹姆斯(Bradshaw James)和塔玛拉卢哈(Tamara Baluja)。为什么许多学生在学术诚信上不及格。《环球邮报》,20112日,https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/why-many-international-students-get-a-failing-grade-in-academic-integrity/article4199683/

[6] 说谁呢?完整性写作:避免抄袭《渥太华大学报》,http://sass.uottawa.ca/sites/sass.uottawa.ca/files/plagiarism.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions

A case’s chances of success depend entirely on the particularities of the case.

When consulting with one of the SRC’s advocates, you will be given their general impressions regarding your chances of success. This opinion is based solely on the Centre’s past experiences, and in no way guarantees the outcome of the appeal.

The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of appeal you are pursuing. Consult our page on appeals and regulations for more information on more specific types of cases.

You will notice that in many cases, there aren’t any fixed deadlines to submit an appeal. This is the case for requests for retro-active drops and some complaints. However, even in the absence of fixed deadlines, it is always prudent to file your appeal as early as possible.

In the case of human rights related complaints, you have 12 months from the date of the last incident to file your complaint. This is true both internally with the University’s Human Rights Office and with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The Student Rights Centre strongly believes that all students who address the University deserve a response within a reasonable delay.

When your addressee does not respond, begin with a follow-up message. If the recipient does not answer your second attempt, consult their supervisor and inform them of your situation. You may also ask the SRC to follow-up on your behalf.

Before consulting a supervisor, make sure to have allotted a reasonable amount of time for your addressee to respond.

Such a “reasonable amount of time” varies from one case to another. At times, one should expect more than a month’s delay. The SRC will outline what is understood by a “reasonable amount of time”, given the nature of your case.

Yes. This is a part of the University’s academic regulation I-8.3 and the student responsibilities concerning academic affairs. Moreover, your professor may specify your obligations concerning class attendance in the course syllabus. Your professor also has the right to refuse you access to a final exam if you have did not abide by these requirements. This being said, policies related to class attendance that go beyond the University regulation must be listed in the course syllabus.

Academic Fraud FAQ

  • According to the Regulation on Academic Fraud, expulsion is one of the most severe sanctions. Within the last ten years, the Student Rights Centre staff has seen this sanction imposed in very few cases out of hundreds of cases.
  • In the majority of cases, students found guilty of academic fraud receive a written warning, a grade of zero for the work in question, or for part of the work in question, a failing grade for the course, or failing grade for the course with the addition of 3 to 30 credits to the requirements of their program (sanctions 2a to 2g).
  • Sanctions vary according to the severity of the fraudulent act in question, attenuating circumstances and the intent of the student. A student found guilty of academic fraud on more than one occasion will likely be sanctioned more severely.
  • The only sanction that plans for a mention on your transcript is sanction k) inclusion of a permanent statement on the student’s official transcript: Sanction pursuant to contravention of the University regulation on fraud.
  • Otherwise, your sanction will not appear on your transcript. This being said, any failing grade received as a result of the application of a sanction will, of course, appear on your transcript. That failure will not be accompanied with a note indicating it is the result of academic fraud.
  • To answer this question you must first ask yourself if you consider that you are indeed guilty of contravening the regulations on academic fraud. By accepting the accelerated process you recognize that you breached, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the regulation and a sanction will be imposed, even if you made an honest mistake. A letter will be placed in your file indicating the sanction. This letter will not specify whether the infraction was voluntary or involuntary.
  • If you are unsure about which process to choose, do not hesitate to consult us. You may also opt for the accelerated process, keeping in mind that once a sanction is proposed, you may choose not to sign the accelerated process agreement letter and your case will automatically be referred to the regular process.
  • The Student Rights Centre observed that more and more students opt for the accelerated process because they wish to resolve the matter as soon as possible – regardless of their belief with regard to their innocence. We have also been witness to students being pressured unduly into opting for the accelerated process. In our opinion, it is best to defend yourself fully if you believe that you are innocent. Although the regular process does take longer than the accelerated process, the delays encountered by students have improved in recent years.
  • When a student if found not guilty, it is understood that the accusation was unfounded – it is as if the allegation never happened.
  • All documents used to accuse you will therefore be destroyed.
  • According to the current interpretation of the academic regulation, yes.
  • This situation unfortunately arises frequently. In fact, an important number of students who consult the Student Rights Centre have simply made honest mistakes in their referencing.
  • According to the regulation on academic fraud, a student’s intention or ignorance of the regulations are not sufficient grounds for finding that the student is not guilty. You may be found guilty of academic fraud, even if you plagiarized accidentally or in good faith.
  • In the context of your defence, it is important to explain why and how you made a mistake. What happened, exactly? Are you a student who writes academic papers often? If you have made a citation error, did you cite the source in your bibliography?
  • Although this is not an official sanction listed in section 2 of the regulation, you can always offer alternative sanctions: rewriting your assignment; writing a new assignment; or writing a summary of the regulations pertaining to academic fraud are some ideas. The University is under no obligation to consider alternative sanctions.
  • At the Student Rights Centre, we denounce this strict interpretation of the regulation. To not consider a student’s intentions in determining whether or not there is plagiarism is a great injustice that we continue to fight. Thankfully, over the years we have observed that the student’s intention was taken into account when considering the appropriate sanction.
  • Cases of academic fraud are decided on the balance of probabilities. If the University has brought forth an allegation of academic fraud against you, it usually means that there is enough evidence, on the balance of probabilities, to find you guilty.
  • Once accused, you will therefore have to offer a defence that will allow the committee to conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that the allegation is not sufficiently founded.
  • Speaking in terms of criminal law, you are not innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

About the Student Rights Centre

  • You have already paid! As a student of the University of Ottawa, you will notice that part of your fees go to the University of Ottawa Students’ Union. A small portion of those fees serve to fund the Student Rights Centre.

  • The Student Rights Centre never gives legal advice. The Centre’s personnel are not lawyers.
  • When confronted with an unjust situation many students express the desire to retain the services of a lawyer. Such a reaction is understandable, but we recommend you begin by consulting the Student Rights Centre (it’s already paid for!)

Contact Us

Tel: 613-710-0795
cde-src@seuo-uosu.com

Nafissatou Sall
Director
src-director@seuo-uosu.com

Jasmine Ockenden
Student Rights Advocate
src-advocate@seuo-ousu.com

Leah Harlos
Student Rights Advocate
leahharlos8@seuo-uosu.com

Aissatou Kane
Student Rights Advocate
src-advocate1@seuo-uosu.com

Schedule (by appointment only)

Monday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Tuesday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Location

85 University Private Room 211G
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 8Z4