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Why Involve OSAI

Why Can’t I Resolve These Issues Myself by Assigning a Low Grade?

OSAI is frequently asked why instructors who have identified an academic offence can’t resolve the matter informally by assigning the student a low grade for the assignment.

There are a number of good reasons for following the centralized process:

  • The Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. The Code does not permit course instructors to sanction students for academic offences. Sanctions can only be imposed by the department Chair or designate (for assignments worth 10% or less), the Dean (or Dean’s designate), or by Tribunal decision. Deviations from these procedures may cause legal complications for you and the University. Additionally, failure to report an offence may be interpreted as condoning an offence, which is itself an offence under the Code.
  • Fairness and consistency. A centralized offence-resolution process helps ensure fairness to students, impartiality in case judgments, and consistency in sanctioning.
  • Access to information. Department administrators and OSAI staff have full access to ROSI (Repository of Student Information) data, and can see if a student is experiencing difficulties beyond the course in question, or has been sanctioned for a prior offence. That information can be invaluable for deciding how to proceed with a case and/or directing a student in need to appropriate campus resources.
  • Identifying and preventing repeat offenders. If an academic offence is resolved informally and the student later commits another offence, OSAI will not know about the first offence and will not be able to pursue the subsequent one as a second offence. Some repeat offenders cite leniency for past infractions as indicative that the University does not take academic integrity seriously, thereby encouraging them to continue problematic behaviour.
  • Identifying and assisting students in need. Frequently, during the course of an investigation, it becomes apparent that academic misconduct is symptomatic of deeper problems (e.g., difficult family or work situations, physical or mental illness, etc.). Such underlying issues are often not revealed if an offence is resolved informally. Engaging in the process can lead students to seek support they need for issues affecting their performance or help them recognize that they need to make significant changes in their work habits. OSAI is diligent about referring students to the appropriate student services and has existing relationships with the staff of these services.
  • OSAI experience. Academic integrity officers are experienced in researching and investigating academic offences. They often discover additional evidence or serious concerns that are not immediately apparent and might not be identified or addressed through informal case resolution. OSAI officers have expertise in investigating complicated offences such as purchased papers and fraudulent documentation (e.g., falsified medical notes or transcripts), and can offer advice on how to approach such situations.
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