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Meet the Student

The Instructor/Student Meeting

After gathering evidence to support an allegation, the course instructor must notify the student of his/her concerns and arrange a meeting (a template is available) to present the student with those concerns. The meeting allows the student to answer any questions you may have regarding the work in question. It should be relatively informal, and can be short (it is not intended to be an interrogation). If compensated for their time, TAs may attend as observers/notetakers, but they should not be responsible for conducting the meeting.

In legal terms, this is a “without prejudice” meeting. That means anything that the student says at the meeting cannot be used against them as evidence should the matter go to Tribunal. If necessary, however, the instructor’s account of the meeting can be used to facilitate resolution at the divisional (OSAI) meeting, since this not a formal legal procedure. Should the matter subsequently reach Tribunal, any reference to the student’s meeting with the instructor will be excised from the record of the divisional meeting.

Interviews regarding allegations of academic misconduct can be emotional and stressful for all parties involved. We recommend that you include a second person at the meeting to take notes while you focus on asking questions. The second person can serve as a witness should the student’s account of the meeting differ from yours.

Please do not hesitate to contact OSAI should you have any concerns or questions regarding a particular case, or if you would like further advice on how to conduct an effective and efficient instructor/student meeting.

Arrange the Meeting

  1. Collect all documentation and materials that support the allegation.
  2. Invite the student for a meeting. You may speak privately with the student after class, or email the student’s utoronto.ca address (a template is available).
    • Tell the student you would like to meet to speak about concerns with his/her assignment or test. If asked for more details, say you will explain in more detail when you meet.
    • Keep your correspondence simple. Use neutral language and avoid making accusations.
    • If it is not feasible to meet in person (e.g., student is out of the city for an extended period of time), discuss the matter by phone, Skype, or e-mail.
  3. If the student doesn’t respond to an initial request for a meeting, try at least one more time, and keep a record of all attempts. On the final attempt (a template is available), indicate in your message that you will be forwarding the case to the Dean’s office for resolution if you have not heard from the student by a set date. If the student continues to be unresponsive, proceed to report the allegation.
  4. In the case of an allegation involving more than one student, interview each student separately. For privacy reasons, avoid disclosing any details about the other student(s).
  5. In the event that the instructor will not be available for some time (for example, a sessional instructor who has left), the department Chair’s designate can meet the student. Following the meeting, the Chair or a designate can review the matter, as appropriate.

What Should Happen at the Meeting?

  1. Introduce everyone present.
  2. Show the student the evidence and explain your concerns using specific examples. Stick to the facts and keep it simple. (E.g. “These parts of the essay match these pages from this website. Can you explain why?”).
  3. Provide the student with an opportunity to respond to your concerns and to offer an explanation.
  4. Some students may want to bring someone with them (e.g., a family member, registrar, or even legal counsel). Remind the student that information pertaining their status and progress as a student is confidential and does not have to be shared with anyone outside of the University without their consent. Clarify that the discussion will involve you and the student only. If the student’s guest insists on speaking, politely remind him/her that s/he has been allowed to attend the meeting as a courtesy, but the purpose of the meeting is for you to speak directly with the student.
  5. If the student identifies ongoing academic or personal concerns, consider referring the student to her/his College Registrar’s office.
  6. If the student becomes agitated or upset during the meeting, adjourn and direct the student to his/her College Registrar’s office.
  • If the student indicates that s/he is considering self-harm or suicide, immediately contact the Crisis Response Team at 416-946-7111.
  • If you believe that the student poses a threat to your safety or that of others contact the Community Safety Office at 416-978-1485.
  • If you believe that the threat of harm is immediate, contact Campus Police at x8-2222 (416-978-2222).

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Assess the Student’s Explanations

Some students immediately take responsibility for their actions. Other students may have various explanations, including some that are heard very often:

  • “I didn’t know I was supposed to use quotation marks.”
  • “I didn’t intend to cheat.”
  • “I sent it to a friend to edit.”
  • “I accidentally submitted a rough draft.”
  • “I’ve been having a really hard time this term.”
  • “I started working on the assignment too late.”
  • “I didn’t know the notes were in my pocket.”

While you may acknowledge and sympathize with his or her situation, the student’s intent should not play a role in assessing whether an academic offence occurred. According to the Code, it is what a student “ought reasonably to have known” at the time of the offence that matters in determining whether an offence has occurred. The student’s reasons for committing an academic offence, however, may affect the sanction that is ultimately imposed.

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Conclude the Meeting

After meeting with the student, if you continue to believe that an offence has been committed, then:

  1. Inform the student that the matter is being forwarded to the department Chair (or designate) for review and, if the assignment is worth more than 10%, to OSAI. If the student is upset, or attempts to persuade you to change your mind, pleads, or negotiates, you can state that Code requires you to forward cases or risk being accused of an offence yourself.
  2. In multi-student cases, inform each student that you must meet with all students involved prior to making an assessment.
  3. Do not make promises or predict outcomes. If students have questions about procedures and/or sanctions, refer them to their College Registrar, who can advise them on what to expect and typical sanctions. Other sources of information are the Code itself, Academic Integrity [PDF] (a publication produced by Student Life) and the Students section of the OSAI website.
  4. Advise the student that under the Code, subsection C.i.(a).12, students cannot withdraw from a course in which an allegation of an academic offence is being investigated, whether at the departmental or the divisional level. The student remains responsible for completing all required work in the course.
  5. If a student does withdraw from the course, s/he will be reinstated when the offence report reaches OSAI, so please forward cases as soon as possible to avoid complications.
  6. If you notice that the student has already withdrawn from the course, please notify your departmental administrator and request that the student be reinstated in the course, and notify OSAI immediately.
  7. Retain the original piece of work and do not return it to the student. Provide a copy if need be.

Do not submit or post a grade for the assignment in question. If the course is finished, submit an NGA (no grade available) until the matter is resolved.

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