Rights and Responsibilities of all Members of the Osgoode Hall Law School Community

A.  Osgoode Hall Law School Equality Resolution

1. Equality Resolution

In furtherance of Osgoode Hall Law School’s long-standing commitment to social justice and equality in legal education, the legal profession, and the law generally, Faculty Council approved the following Equality Resolution.

2.  Affirmation

Osgoode Hall Law School, its staff, students and faculty, subscribe to the public policy enunciated in the preamble to the Ontario Human Rights Code*, and state expressly that they seek to do everything possible to enhance that policy within the Law School community. To this end, the Law School affirms that every member of the community has a right to equal treatment without discrimination, and in particular, without regard to race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, political orientation, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, family status, or handicap.

*The preamble to the Human Rights Code reads in part as follows:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world and is in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations;

And whereas it is public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law…”

3.  Teaching and Learning

The faculty and students, in order to continue and expand efforts to promote freedom from discrimination both within the Law School and in society at large, undertake to consider the following measures in relation to teaching and learning:

a inclusion in teaching materials of works or references to works that demonstrate the impact of law on groups that are or have been subjected to discrimination, or inclusion in teaching materials of explanations for the omission of such works or references;

b.  placement of teaching materials that support or exhibit discrimination within a context that identifies their discriminatory nature and that invites open and critical comment on it;

c.  use of language in the classroom, in written materials, and in examinations that is free from discriminatory stereotypes and references;

d.  use of other measures, such as holding seminars about non-discriminatory teaching materials and methods, which demonstrate continuing sensitivity to the problems faced by individuals
and groups subject to discrimination; and

e.  heightening awareness of the existence of systemic discrimination.

B. Osgoode Hall Law School Equality Procedures

1.  Academic Procedures

1.1.  Standards of Conduct – General Principles

a.  Members of the Osgoode Community have a right to be free from discrimination or harassment directed at their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed,
political orientation, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, family status or handicap.

b.  Any intellectual community thrives on the free and full expression of opposing ideas and values. However, only in an environment free of discrimination or harassment can the Law School
fulfill its commitment to fostering an environment that promotes free and open inquiry by all members of the community. Students, staff and faculty have a responsibility to exercise their
freedom of expression in a manner that promotes equality and justice.

1.2  Procedures Regarding Equality Complaints in Teaching and Curriculum

a.  The purpose of these procedures is to provide access to swift and effective mechanisms to protect all students from discrimination and harassment as referred to in paragraph 1.1(a).

b.  The faculty and the administration must accept responsibility for the goal of ensuring that equality principles be reflected in the curriculum and the classroom.

c.  The dispute resolution process should not impose an undue burden on complainants. In addition, the process should provide a forum for giving voice and legitimacy to the experiences
and concerns of all members of the community.

d.  The administration should foster a climate of respect, consultation and assistance rather than confrontation in regard to faculty and students alike.

e.  Students who invoke these procedures should not be penalized in any way. Nor should a decision not to invoke these procedures remove a student’s right to pursue other formal or informal avenues of redress.

f.  Any student who believes that the general principles in paragraphs 1.1(a) to 1.2(e) are being violated by the course content, the nature of the reading materials, or the conduct of the classes in the particular course, seminar or academic program are encouraged, but in no sense required as a prerequisite to pursuing the remedies set out below, to raise the matter with the instructor either individually or in a group.

g.  Students may initiate a complaint to the Assistant Dean, Students in her/his capacity as Safe Counsel, or, acting on their own behalf or with the assistance of the Safe Counsel, students may initiate a complaint to the Associate Dean (Academic), where they believe the general principles in paragraphs 1.1(a) to 1.2(e) above are being violated by the course content, the nature of the reading materials, or the conduct of classes in a particular course, seminar or academic program.

h.  A student may request any remedy within the authority of the Associate Dean (Academic), including but not limited to any combination of:

      1. mediation;
      2. retroactive withdrawal from the course, seminar or program;
      3. permission to attend lectures in another section;
      4. late entry into another course, seminar or program;
      5. tutorial assistance;
      6. alternative examination or grading arrangements;
      7. guaranteed enrolment in another section of the course, seminar or program to be offered in a future term or academic term; and
      8. the issuance of “damage control letters” with a view to securing extensions or other forms of relief in other courses or seminars in which the complainant is enrolled.

i.  Where the Associate Dean (Academic) forms the opinion that the complaint is not frivolous or abusive and represents a reasonable concern that the general principles expressed in paragraphs 1.1(a) to 1.2(e) above are being or have been violated, the Associate Dean (Academic) shall provide remedial assistance. The relief to be granted by the Associate Dean (Academic) in response to such a complaint shall be determined in consultation with the Safe Counsel and the student(s) concerned, and shall be fixed not later than 10 school days after the receipt of the complaint by the Associate Dean (Academic), or after mediation (if pursued) has proved unsuccessful.

j.  Students, acting on their own behalf or with the assistance of a Safe Counsel, may alternatively or simultaneously explore other options to resolve their concerns, including but not limited to a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsperson and Centre for Human Rights.

k.  Where a complainant has pursued relief under paragraphs 1.2(f) to 1.2(h), and both the Associate Dean (Academic) and the Safe Counsel have found the complaint to be frivolous or abusive, the equality complaint shall be adjudged manifestly unfounded in which case no further Law School procedures may be pursued by the complainant.

l.  Alternatively, where the complainant is not satisfied with the result secured, and the complaint has not been adjudged manifestly unfounded under paragraph 1.2(k), the complainant may give notice to the Dean to convene an investigatory panel composed of three persons: one student, one faculty member, and an external chair, all of whom are agreeable to both the complainant(s) and the respondent(s).

m.  An investigatory panel so established shall convene within 10 school days of notice being given to the Dean under paragraph 1.2(l), and shall conduct an informal inquiry that will consist of interviews with the parties, and such further investigation as it deems appropriate. The complainant and any students or faculty members implicated or involved in the complaint shall be given a copy of the complaint, and afforded an opportunity to respond to it orally and in writing. The panel’s process is intended to be speedy and informal; the panel does not have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents.

n.  The investigatory panel may make any decision which the Associate Dean (Academic) could have made under paragraph 1.2(g).

o.  The investigatory panel shall prepare a brief report of its work, including the nature of the complaint, the nature of the response thereto, its tentative findings of fact, and such other matters as it deems pertinent, which shall not identify the complainant(s). If the panel concludes that the complaint has been founded, the respondent shall be given an opportunity to reply orally or in writing. The investigatory panel shall then prepare its final report having considered the reply, if any, of the respondent. A copy of the final report shall be delivered to the complainant(s) and the respondent.

p.  The final report of the investigatory panel, if the complaint has been founded, and the complainant consents, shall be filed with the Dean, Associate Dean (Academic), Equality Committee, and the Office of Admissions & Student Services. A registry of such reports of founded complaints shall be maintained by the Office of Admissions & Student Services and made readily accessible to all students.

q.  The Equality Committee shall monitor the efficacy of the equality complaints procedure and undertake to remedy any issues of general concern.

C. University Policies and Procedures Governing Non-Academic Conduct

1.  Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Office of Student Community Relations is committed to fostering student success by upholding the behavioural expectations outlined in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities. OSCR strives to build community by embodying the values of civility, diversity, equity and respect through provision of services such as advice, referrals, education, alternative dispute resolution/dialogue processes, Local Adjudication and the University Tribunal process. OSCR also supports students, parent/guardians and the community in its role as a University liaison in the management of critical incident cases.

Currently, the governing principles and policies of Student Conduct are found in the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

The Office is located at W128 Bennett Centre for Student Services (West entrance to Bennett Centre for Student Services, south of main entrance) and is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. You can reach the office at 416-736-5231 or ext. 55231 or by visiting yorku.ca/oscr.

2.  Rights and Responsibilities of Students (from the Code)

York University is a place of research, teaching and learning where people value civility, diversity, equity, honesty and respect in their direct and indirect interactions with one another. Freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom to study and to learn, freedom to engage in research, and the freedom to write and to publish are all recognized as central to the mission of the institution. It is acknowledged that these values can only be meaningful, and these freedoms fully realized, in an atmosphere of safety and security. All York students have rights and responsibilities as outlined in this document and are expected to uphold the identified values for the benefit of the entire York community.

This Code identifies behaviour that is disruptive to the educational purposes of the University, makes the campus less safe, diminishes the dignity of individuals and groups, and the enjoyment of their rights. It applies specifically to students because the behaviour of non-student members of the University community are held to comparable standards of account by provincial laws, University policies and their unions’ collective agreements. Information about how to address a concern or a complaint regarding a faculty or staff member can be found at oscr.students.yorku.ca

York is committed to civil discourse and the free and open exchange of ideas between community members and as such, nothing in this Code is intended as a method or excuse to suppress peaceful protest, civil debate or other lawful conduct so long as student responsibilities as outlined in Section 4 are being upheld.

All students have the rights and responsibilities articulated in the preamble. In keeping with these rights and responsibilities, students are responsible for conducting themselves in a way that supports research, teaching and learning, and upholding an atmosphere of civility, diversity, equity and respect in their interactions with others. Students should strive to make the campus safe, to support the dignity of individuals and groups, and to uphold individual and collective rights and responsibilities.

3.  Complaints Procedure

The University recognizes that many disputes can be resolved without resorting to the provisions of this Code. Wherever it is possible and proper to do so, members of the University community are to be encouraged to use constructive communication to encourage appropriate behavior rather than invoking the following complaint process.

A complaint may be initiated by filing a written complaint with the Office of Student Community Relations. A complaint form available on its website for this purpose. Initially every complaint made under this process will be directed to a Local Adjudicator in the relevant College, Faculty, Residence or Administrative Unit. Following an investigation and decision of the Local Adjudicator, a student may request a hearing before the University Tribunal.

The standard of proof required for determination that there has been a breach of the Code will be “on a balance of probabilities,” meaning that the person(s) deciding a case must find that it is more probable than not a contested allegation is established as fact, or not.

The Complainant has the right to attend any hearing on the matter where evidence he or she has provided is being used. The Complainant also has the right to know the outcome of the complaint process, unless the Local Adjudicator or University Tribunal finds that there are grounds to order otherwise. Sanctions can include any combination of the following: reprimand, personal or public apology, community service or reflective essay, restitution for damage up to $500, fines up to $250, withdrawal of non-essential University services, behavioural undertaking with a financial deposit of up to $500, campus restrictions, relocation or removal from University residence, notation on student record, suspension or expulsion.

Note: The full text of the standards and procedures summarized above can be found in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

4.  Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson will receive and consider the concern(s) raised when a member of the University community has availed herself/himself of all usual processes but has not been able to resolve her/his concern because of an alleged unfair or delayed application of such processes; or where for good reason, she/he is unable to follow the usual processes.

In exercising this role, the Ombudsperson will have unrestricted access to all University personnel and may examine the actions or decisions of the York University authority in question in order to determine whether such actions/decisions conform to the University’s stated processes and with procedural fairness.

While the Ombudsperson does not have the authority to over-rule decisions, impose solutions or interfere with collective agreements or the collective bargaining process, she/he can consider complaints outside of the realm of collective agreements, make informal enquiries, carry out formal reviews, draw conclusions and make appropriate recommendations to the President and Senior Administrators about specific actions or decisions. In addition, the Ombudsperson may also make recommendations about York University policies, practices and/or procedures that may be outdated, ineffectual or arbitrary.

The Ombudsperson acts impartially and objectively, neither as an advocate for individuals, nor as a defender of the University, but rather as a seeker of procedural fairness and reasonable outcomes. The Ombudsperson is independent of York University’s formal administrative structure and all other departments.

More information can be found at ombuds.info.yorku.ca.

5.  Centre for Human Rights, Equality & Inclusion

The Centre for Human Rights, Equality & Inclusion assists individuals and groups to address and resolve allegations of discrimination and harassment as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The Centre’s mandate covers all grounds of the Code, as well as York’s human rights policies and provisions. Where a complaint cannot be resolved informally, the matter may be investigated.

The Centre advocates for the adherence to both the spirit and provisions of the Code, as well as all human rights policies at York.

The Centre also plays a significant role in human rights education promoting a culture of equity and mutual respect. As part of its educational role, the Centre liaises with human rights groups, committees and associations both within the University and in the broader community as resources permit.

D. Internal Mechanisms

1.  Associate Dean (Academic)

The Associate Dean (Academic) has general responsibility for the administration of the academic program at the Law School. The Associate Dean (Academic) is responsible for teaching assignments (full-time and adjunct faculty) and directs the tenure and promotions process. The Associate Dean (Academic) has the power to provide relief to students with founded complaints of a breach of equality principles in teaching or curriculum.  The Associate Dean (Academic) is also responsible for investigating potential breaches of academic honesty.

2.  Associate Dean (Students)

The Associate Dean (Students) working closely with the Assistant Dean, Students and the Office of Admissions & Student Services, has general responsibility for oversight of student matters at the Law School. S/he provides support and resources in order to (i) assist in easing the transition into law school for first year students and (ii) encourage the academic success of all students in the JD Program. The Associate Dean (Students) works with the Assistant Dean, Students to provide oversight and approval for student plans of study. In addition the Associate Dean (Students) is responsible for issues concerning student non-academic misconduct and provides advice and information regarding the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.