Proving Academic Misconduct

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What is the Instructor’s role?

Under the Code of Student Behaviour (the “Code”), Instructors require only a reasonable suspicion of academic misconduct. An instructor collects the relevant evidence and information in support of an allegation under the Code, but is not required to prove a case in order to refer it to the Dean (or designate). The responsibility to meet the standard of proof is on the Dean and/or Discipline Officer (i.e. those authorized to make findings and decide sanctions under the Code). According to the procedures for decision makers[1] set out in the Code, the standard of proof required is balance of probabilities.

Our standard of proof

Unlike the criminal system which must meet a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof, but can compel evidence and witnesses and can incarcerate offenders, the Code is based in Administrative Law, which lowers the requirement for proof but also limits our ability to compel evidence or witnesses and confines our potential sanctions to those that affect a student’s status at the University.

Balance of probabilities is the “more likely (or probable) than not” standard. In other words, if the available evidence convinces the Dean to the point that he or she is 50% + 1 certain that a student has committed an offence, the standard of proof has been met.

Conflicting evidence or denial of guilt

Note that evidence is required to make a determination, but that a finding on what is more likely than not (balance of probabilities) can be made even when a student has not admitted to wrong-doing or when there are minor discrepancies in the evidence gathered. Often a decision maker has to assess the credibility of witnesses or of conflicting accounts. This forms part of the process of establishing balance of probabilities and meeting our standard of proof.

Please note this information does not replace or supersede the policies and procedures outlined in the Code of Student Behaviour. In the case of any disagreement, the Code of Student Behaviour takes precedence.

[1] Sections 30.5.5(3) Procedures for Unit Directors, 30.5.7(4) Procedures for Deans, 30.5.8(4)c Procedures for the Discipline Officer, and 30.6.5(12) Procedures for Appeal of Decisions to the University Appeal Board.