III. General Information
Policy on Responsibilities of Advisors, Advisory Committees and Graduate Students and Graduate Student-Advisor Mediation Procedures
Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (with flowchart)
Regardless of the best intentions of all involved, conflict can arise in the course of graduate studies. Depending on the type of conflict and the issues involved, different resolution mechanisms will be appropriate. Four types of conflict can arise in the course of graduate studies. These are:
Following is a brief summary of the various conflict resolution processes currently in place at the University and based upon current policies. Complainants, responding administrators or committees who believe they have or are dealing with a human rights complaint may, at any time, consult the University's Human Rights Policy and the Human Rights and Equity Office. The attached flow chart provides a visual representation of the various processes.
Interpersonal conflict between the student and the advisor
As in any other domain of human endeavour, conflict can arise between the student and Advisor simply because of differences in personality, communication style, or unspoken expectations. In many cases, such conflict can be resolved through improved communication, but occasionally the situation deteriorates to the point where external mediation is required. The proposed dispute resolution mechanism is consistent with other University policies, emphasizing action first at the local level. The initial complaint should be brought to the attention of the Graduate Coordinator, but if that individual is unable to resolve the dispute the Chair should become involved. If the Chair cannot resolve the matter, the Chair should inform the Dean of Graduate Studies who, in consultation with the College Dean, will provide informal mediation.
Dispute about evaluation of progress, qualifying or oral examination; includes procedural irregularity
Disputes may arise regarding the quality of a student's work or the procedures used to assess this work. For example, there may be disagreement about the outcome of a failed qualifying examination or final oral examination. There may also be disagreement over the methods of assessing academic work or evaluating progress, including the means used to accommodate a student's disability or special circumstances. These disputes should first be brought to the attention of the Graduate Coordinator who may also consult the Chair. If the matter cannot be resolved at the departmental level, and/or the Department is unsure about options for resolution, the case should be referred to the Admissions and Progress Committee of the Board of Graduate Studies. The Committee will issue a ruling on the case to the Department, and may require specified action. Such action may include a requirement to seek independent evaluation by one or more internal or external assessors of the student's work. If the Admission and Progress Committee upholds the Departmental decision, and the student wishes to make the case that the methods and criteria used by the Department did not conform to procedures established by Senate, the student may appeal the decision to the Senate Committee on Student Petitions within 90 days.
Disruptive, abusive or destructive behaviour on the part of the advisor
Disruptive, abusive, and destructive behaviour on the part of the Advisor is unacceptable in a scholarly environment. Faculty Policies, Section F(4), expressly prohibits "gross misconduct, toward another member of the University Community in the context of University activity", and "intimidating, harassing, or abusive behaviour of a serious nature". Section F(4) also contains detailed instructions on the investigation and remediation of such cases, which bind both complainants and departmental authorities.
Disruptive, abusive, or destructive behaviour on the part of the student
Disruptive, abusive, and destructive behaviour on the part of the student is also unacceptable in a scholarly environment. The University's Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy, which is stated in the Graduate Calendar, lists a number of offences against individuals and property. Advisors, fellow students, or other faculty may register an informal complaint about a student's behaviour with the Graduate Coordinator or Chair, who will attempt to resolve the matter. The Graduate Co-ordinator/Chair may also choose to involve the Dean of Graduate Studies in attempting to reach a resolution. If the Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the Chair and/or Dean, is unable to resolve the matter, a formal complaint should be made, normally to Security Services, who take carriage of the complaint through the University's Judicial Process.