Ask Meaghan: How to handle a student misconduct allegation

My name is Meaghan and I’m the Student Advocacy Resource Coordinator with the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University. I have so much to tell you about self-advocacy!! Through this bi-weekly series, #AskMeaghan, my goal is to answer any questions you may have about this crazy-little-thing-called-UNIVERSITY ♫ (see this video to sing along).

 

Don’t put the pause on reading this just because you’re not policy nerds like we are in this office (#policynerdsunite). January has been a busy month for student misconduct allegations and hearings held over from the fall semester. We at the Student Advocacy Resource Centre want to help answer any questions you might have about the Student Code of Conduct, how a misconduct allegation could impact you as a student, and what the Student Advocacy Resource Centre can do to help.

The Student Code of Conduct can be found at this link. To find out what your rights and responsibilities are as a student, we suggest checking out MRU’s policy and procedure site here, or come visit us to talk policy, and we can help you swim those deep waters.

What is misconduct, and what is the MRU Student Code of Conduct?

Beyond being a policy that talks about the principles, rules, and regulations that MRU students need to follow, it covers much more. Misconduct is a breach of the Student Code of Conduct, and it can come in academic form (such as plagiarism) or in non-academic form (such as vandalism).

Before you manage to stumble into the misconduct hot seat, think about things like academic integrity, honesty, standards of classroom behaviour, and shared community conduct standards. For example, on the academic front, it’s not a good idea to do an assignment with your friend that’s meant to be done as individuals. Ask your instructor if you’re thinking about using a similar assignment from another class to submit for course credit, before you do it. Don’t use an image or a table from an academic paper/website/organization without using an in-text citation.

Non-academically speaking, shouting at your instructor in class is something to steer away from, obviously. Sexual assault and harassment are also completely unacceptable and consent is crucial (watch this video if you’re unsure what does and doesn’t constitute consent). There are many kinds of situations that can be considered non-academic misconduct, so talk to us if you’re unsure.

How can a misconduct allegation impact you as a student?

It’s completely normal to feel anxious or stressed out when allegations of misconduct against you crop up during your time as a student. Depending on the severity of the allegation, if this is the first time you’ve had an incident report filed about you, then you will receive a warning. The incident report stays on file in the Office of Student Conduct, and is confidential to their office. A first incident only goes to a hearing if it’s a serious situation involving potential harm to others, or if you choose to dispute the allegation(s) against you. The allegation does not go on your transcript unless you receive a transcript notation as part of your hearing sanction/outcome.  If you never experience another misconduct allegation or incident report during your time as a student at MRU, this incident remains a warning. However, if it is your second or third time of having an incident report filed against you, suspension or expulsion (the serious stuff) could be a result.

What can the Student Advocacy Resource Centre do for me?

A number of things, such as:

  • Provide options for next steps involving allegations of the MRU Student Code of Conduct (In first incidents, helping you weigh the option of taking the allegation to a hearing or not)
  • Review any written correspondence on the situation (eg. from your instructor, Office of Student Conduct, your faculty, etc.)
  • Provide written, holistic feedback for hearing submissions (Eg. What was happening in your life outside of MRU? What led up to the incident/allegation?)
  • Provide coaching in self-advocacy, body language, effective communication, or conflict resolution in preparation for a meeting or hearing
  • Provide personal support by attending your meeting or hearing with you
  • Provide self-care planning to assist in your hearing experience, before, after, and during

Going through the process of academic/non-academic misconduct allegations can be very stressful. Know that you are not alone. Bottom line: YOU are the advocate in your situation and the only one who can speak to your experience. The Student Advocacy Resource Centre helps to empower you to become your own best self-advocate. You hold the power to choose how you speak and which advice to accept, dismiss, or reflect on.

How to submit your questions to Meaghan:

Get involved today and #AskMeaghan to discover how you can become a #SAMRUselfadvocacy champion! Submit your questions by using the #AskMeaghan hashtag on social media or email me directly at m.paturel@samru.ca. I’m in the Student Advocacy Resource Centre (Z303) in Wyckham House from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm but feel free to pop by during drop-in hours from 12 to 2 pm on weekdays. The Student Advocacy Resource admins or myself would be happy to help you!