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Student Grievance Policy (Policy #70)


Policy 70* sets out the principles on which UW's Student Grievance Policy is based and describes the procedural steps a student may take to seek remedies for grievances. The Ombudsperson (Campus Centre 150C, ext. 2402) is available to advise students of their rights under this Policy and to advise on the procedures to be followed.

The fundamental criterion for initiating a grievance is that a student believes that a decision of a University authority or the action of a University member affecting some aspect of her/his University life has not been reasonable, just or fair.

There are two types of student grievances:

Academic grievances (Type 1) allege errors in academic judgement and are normally decided at the Faculty level to ensure that individuals knowledgeable in the field assess the matter.

Procedural/other grievances (Type 2) are much broader, covering such matters as alleged procedural error or instances of bias or prejudice other than sexual harassment, discrimination or abuse of supervisory authority, which are covered by Policy #33 on Ethical Behaviour.

Petitions are distinguished from grievances. Petitions are requests from students seeking exceptions to or relief from normal Faculty or University rules and regulations because of special circumstances, such as illness or bereavement, unlike grievances which are typically based on alleged errors in academic judgment or in procedure.

The grievance process is divided into the following three stages, with each successive stage becoming increasingly formal.

  1. An informal inquiry is the first stage and is initiated by a student going directly to the individual (or Chair of the committee) whose decision or action is being questioned. This communication can be either in writing or in person. This step must be taken before a review under formal procedures is sought; experience has shown informal communication to be an effective resolution mechanism.
  2. A student who is not satisfied with the outcome of an informal inquiry may initiate a formal review by submitting a written request to the appropriate authority, indicating the grounds on which the request is being made.
  3. A student who is not satisfied with the outcome of a formal review may initiate an appeal, the third and final stage in the process, by requesting a hearing before a tribunal established at the Faculty or University level.

At each stage in the process, parties to a grievance are entitled to be accompanied by a colleague for advice and support.

Students are expected to seek remedies for their grievances promptly, and normally must lodge a grievance within two months either of being notified of an adverse decision or from the end of the term in which the alleged event or series of events occurred. Six months after graduation, a student's right to initiate a grievance ceases unless substantive new evidence is obtained. Students are entitled to timely responses to their queries, including the reasons for which decisions are made.

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Ethical Behaviour (Policy #33)

Sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse of supervisory authority are explicitly cited in Policy 33 as being antithetical to the nurturing environment UW strives to provide. Any student who believes that principles expressed in the Policy have been violated is encouraged to consult - informally and in confidence - a member of the Ethics Committee for advice. A list of members may be obtained from the University Secretariat in Needles Hall (room 3060, ext. 2749). The Ombudsperson (Campus Centre) and the Sexual Harassment Counsellor (Counselling Services, Needles Hall, room 2080, ext. 2814) are also available to advise students.

* The full text of Policies 70, 71 and 33 is available electronically on UWinf o. Copies can also be obtained from the Ombudsperson (Campus Centre) and the University Secretariat (Needles Hall).

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