Meeting With the Student

All charges of academic misconduct under the Code are adjudicated by the Dean or designate of the Faculty in which the course is offered. As an instructor, you are required by the Code to meet with the student(s) who have allegedly committed the offence before submitting the case to the Dean. The following is a guide to use in your conversation with your student. You are not required to follow this format, and deviations from this guide will certainly not result in legitimate cases being dismissed. This is intended to ease the stress involved with this process for both the instructor and the students. See the Code of Student Behaviour for the section on Procedures for Instructors.

Before the meeting

  • Make an appointment to speak to the student(s). Respect their privacy (e.g., do not make a general announcement to the class). Email is an effective and discrete way to contact them.
  • Be clear about the reason for the meeting. For example, “I have noted some problems with your use of sources in essay #2 and would like to discuss them with you.”
  • Provide a date by which you would like to meet. Be reasonable, taking into account that students may have exams, jobs, or other commitments that may prevent them from meeting with you immediately.
  • Inform the students about the Office of the Student Ombuds, a neutral office that advises students on University processes. An Ombudsperson can assist them throughout the discipline process.
  • If several students were involved in the same offence, meet with them individually.
  • If a student doesn’t respond or avoids meeting with you, you can send the evidence you have collected to the Dean, with a note that you were unable to meet with the student.
As an instructor, you do not impose sanctions under the Code and therefore you are not required to allow the student to bring an Ombudsperson or other advisor. However, when a student brings an Ombudsperson, there are a number of benefits both to the student and to you.  An Ombudsperson can help the student prepare for the meeting beforehand and provide support during the meeting. The Ombuds can also offer information on policy and process, and provide some consistency between the meeting with you and any subsequent discipline meetings the student may face.  
For your own benefit, it can also be helpful for you to invite a colleague or administrator from your department to sit in as a witness or to take notes while you concentrate on the conversation.
If you do have others in the meeting, remember that you and the student are the two main participants in the discussion.

During the meeting

  • Allow the student to examine your evidence.
  • Explain what you suspect and why.
  • Give the student an opportunity to respond. S/he may be able to provide a plausible explanation. On the other hand, this may be an opportunity for a student who would like to take responsibility for the offence to do so.
  • Be prepared for possible false excuses, but open-minded enough to consider plausible explanations.
  • If, at the end of the meeting, you believe there was a Code violation, advise the student that you are required to turn the case over to the Dean of the Faculty and that you do not have the discretion to impose any sanctions on your own. You may wish to provide reasons for this: it maintains consistency across the Faculty and provides the opportunity for appeal. It also allows the University to track students who have violated the Code in other departments or Faculties.
  • If you are planning to send the case to the Dean, let the student know that the Dean’s office will contact him or her to make an appointment.
  • Avoid threatening to send the evidence to the Dean if the student doesn't confess. You are required to send the case on to the Dean any time you suspect a Code violation, whether or not the student has admitted to it.
  • Do not take matters into your own hands and simply assign a zero on the paper. Our system is based on natural justice[1], which accords certain rights before any sanction is imposed. If you assign a zero on the paper without sending the information on to the Dean, not only are you acting without proper authority, but you are depriving the student of any right to appeal. You could also be laying the groundwork for a valid grade appeal and allowing serial cheaters to continue undetected.

After the meeting

  • Provide enough information in your report to the Dean for him or her to follow up. A checklist is provided on the following page. If you prefer, you can download the Reporting Form.
  • If a case is still unresolved at the end of a term, report the student’s grade as IN (incomplete).
  • The course instructor receives copies of any decisions made in the case, including those of the Dean, the Discipline Officer and the University Appeal Board.

[1] See §30.1.1 of the Code of Student Behaviour, “Rights Under the Code,” for an example of the principles of natural justice.