ACADEMIC ADVOCACY

WHAT WE DO

SMUSA offers confidential advice, information, and free representation for SMU students facing academic challenges. This includes unfair grades, academic dishonesty charges, problems with your supervisor/department/university, or any form of discrimination/harassment. We can support you through academic discipline appeal, non-academic appeal, grade appeal, suspension appeal)

We want to listen to your concerns and support you through the process. We can help you understand University regulations and appeal procedures, discuss possible resolutions and act as a liaison between you and the administration/faculty. We have an open door policy and will ensure a welcoming, non-judgemental and professional setting.

 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Students at Saint Mary’s University are expected to commit to the values of Academic Integrity (honesty, trust, fairness, respect & responsibility) and be aware of the various forms of Academic Dishonesty, how to avoid them and the consequences of an offense.

The common forms of Academic Dishonesty are:

Plagiarism: The presentation of words, ideas or techniques of another as one’s own

Cheating: The attempt to secure a grade by unethical means or helping another student do so

Tampering: Tampering university materials/resources which would deprive others of their use

Falsification: Falsify any academic record or to use a falsified record

The consequences of being found guilty of being involved in Academic Dishonesty include:

Repeat of a coursework

Failure of the course

Loss of scholarships

Suspension, Dismissal, or Expulsion from the University.

To read more about Academic Integrity and the Resolution processes in case you have been accused of Academic Dishonesty, please read our Academic Integrity Information Handbook or the University’s latest Academic Calendar.

 

APPEALS & PROCESSES

Academic Discipline Process

If you are charged with Academic Dishonesty, the professor will submit a report to the Registrar’s office.

The registrar will determine if it is a first offence. If not, all current and previous documentation will be sent to your faculty’s Academic Integrity Officer (AIO).

There are 4 Academic Integrity Officers, one for each faculty:

  1. Arts: Dr. Mark Barr
  2. Science: Dr. Mark Fleming
  3. Commerce: Dr. Mark Raymond
  4. Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research: Dr. Nicholas Roulin

Once the AIO has the documentation, they will try to schedule a meeting with you. This is part of the investigation process.

Make sure to agree to a meeting, as saying no will hurt your case. You are encouraged to seek help from the SMUSA Vice President Academic in preparation for your meeting. A SMUSA representative can accompany you to the meeting.

The AIO’s investigation will involve interviews with you and the professor. Once a decision has been made, you will be notified. The decision will also be sent to the Registrar, the relevant Dean and Department Chair, and your instructor.

If the AIO recommends a severe sanction, the case will be raised to the Academic Discipline Officer or the Senate Executive Committee.

Academic Discipline Appeal

If you are unhappy with the decision of the Academic Discipline Process, you can appeal if there was a:

  1. Failure to follow the rules of natural justice – This means you can appeal the decision if you feel your right to a fair and unbiased hearing where you had the opportunity to be heard, was violated.
  2. Failure to follow University rules, regulations and policies – You can appeal the decision if the panel did not follow the processes of the hearing stated in the Academic Calendar. This includes, but is not limited to, providing you with your right to provide evidence, your right to comment on the complainant’s testimony and question them.

How to appeal?

Once you receive the panel’s decision, you can appeal by submitting a written Notice of Appeal to the Registrar within 10 working days of receiving the decision. You are encouraged to meet with the SMUSA Vice President Academic to discuss the grounds of appeal and develop your written notice.

Your rights at the Hearing:

  • You are to be given adequate notice about the hearing and full opportunity to participate.
  • You can be represented by another individual, including a lawyer.
  • You can bring witnesses to support your appeal.
  • You can question the witnesses (brought in by yourself or by the other party).
  • You can request for the hearing to be open, limited to 5 observers.

The result:

The Registrar will notify you of the decision made by the panel within 5 working days of the panel coming to a decision.

The panel may deny the appeal, revoke the decision of the original panel, recommend a re-hearing, or modify the original decision.

The decision of the Academic Discipline Appeal Board is final.

Grade Appeal

If you are unhappy with a final grade, the first step you need to take is contact your Professor. If the matter is still unresolved, you can reach out to the Chairperson or Dean. If you still think your grade unfairly reflects your academic performance in the course (due to medical reasons, inconsistency with the course outline, unfair treatment by professor, etc.), you can file a formal grade appeal within 3 months of the last day of the semester in which the course was taken. Here is what you have to do:

  • Submit a written appeal to the Registrar by filling out the Academic Appeals form, available at the Registrar’s office. There is a 30$ fee involved that will be returned if your appeal is upheld.
  • In the form, clearly state the reason for the appeal, precisely which part of the coursework grades you are appealing (it could be the entire coursework) and what outcome you expect from the appeal.
  • Attach all necessary supporting documents – communication with professor (emails, etc.), any retained graded work directly related to the grade you are appealing and any other retained graded work of the overall course.
  • You can also submit a letter to the Committee on Academic Appeals explaining any medical or personal circumstances that hindered your performance, attaching medical or other related documents to support this letter.
  • You may be asked to come in to discuss the appeal in person with the Committee. Remember to stay calm and address specific points from the Professor’s statement.
  • You are encouraged to seek help from the SMUSA VP Academic in preparing your appeal package.

The final grade may be raised, lowered or unchanged. Remember that the decision of the Committee regarding grade appeals is final and no further appeals are possible.

Academic Suspension/Dismissal Appeal

As it stands, there is no formal Senate committee to review Academic Suspension or Dismissal Appeals. Each Faculty evaluates these appeals using their internal processes.

If you feel that you have valid grounds for appealing your suspension or dismissal, we strongly encourage that you visit the SMUSA Vice President Academic to help you plan your appeal package and prepare for the next steps. You can also meet with the Advisor, Dean or Associate Dean to discuss your case.

A typical appeal package will contain:

  1. A letter (usually to the Dean or Associate Dean) outlining your reasons for appealing the decision, what has improved and/or what steps you plan to take that will steer you to success if your appeal is upheld and you are allowed to return. Remember to include all your information including you’re Full Name, A-number, Email address, Mailing address and Phone number.
  2. Any documents that support your reasons (including medical documents, notes from counsellors, advising center notes, career counselling notes, etc.).

Once you have gathered all the documents for your appeal package, submit it to your Advisor, preferably in person, and expect to hear back soon.

Questions, Comments or Concerns?

If you have any additional questions, comments or concerns, contact Bryn!

Bryn de Chastelain

Bryn de Chastelain

Vice-President Academic & Advocacy

SC503F
T: 902-496-8705
E: [email protected]

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