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Advocate

Advocacy & Ombuds

We’re not lawyers, but we’re here to support you. If you're facing a bureaucratic challenge or dispute with the University, we’re on your side, ready to support you through the process.

Advocacy & Ombudsman

The Advocacy and Ombuds offices are here to help you resolve disputes during your time at UBC. We do very different things, but together form the conflict resolution team.

Advocacy

The Advocacy Office provides confidential and effective guidance to undergraduate students who are in formal conflicts with the university. Formal conflicts include academic disputes, non-academic disputes, housing appeals, library fines and parking disputes. We are always pro-student.

Ombuds

The Ombuds Office is an independent, impartial body for conflict resolution and confidential service. We don’t answer to the AMS, we don’t answer to the university, and we don’t answer to anyone else except you.

Advocacy Office

COVID-19 UPDATE

AMS Advocacy will continue to provide confidential and effective guidance to students who are in formal conflicts with the university during this time. The AMS Advocate will be available online, with in-person consultations suspended. Please reach out to Amy Ko, the AMS Advocate by email at advocate@ams.ubc.ca.

BOOK Your Appointment on Calendly


The Advocacy Office was established in 1999 to provide information and support to students facing the bureaucratic challenges and disciplinary committees of UBC. We strive to do our absolute best to provide students with information about UBC’s policies and procedures when they are in a formal conflict with the university. But, we are not lawyers, and do not provide legal advice! Rather, we are here to offer confidential and effective support to any undergraduate and graduate student at UBC in regards to the disputes outlined below.

  • Non Academic Misconduct – Non Academic Misconduct may include vandalism of University property, harassing others individuals, and stealing on Campus Grounds. We can also assist and advocate for the rights of students accused under policy 131 – Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Miscondcuct.
  • Academic Misconduct – Academic Misconduct may include engaging or attempting to engage in cheating, plagiarism, falsifying information, etc.
  • Academic standing – Academic Standing refers to issues such as failing a grade or promotion to next level of studies.
  • Housing appeals – Housing incidents that relate to the UBC Resident Contract, subletting, etc.
  • Parking disputes – Appealing a Traffic Notice (Parking ticket disputes).
  • Library fine appeals – Appealing library fines and other charges.

Getting Advocacy Assistance

Advocacy Coordinator Office hours
Amy Ko
advocate@ams.ubc.caNEST 3118
By appointment only.

Guidelines

  • We are not lawyers and do not provide legal advice
  • We do not present or advocate for students on their behalf, but merely provides assistance
  • The Advocacy Coordinator does not compile or write student appeal documents
  • The Advocacy Coordinator has no investigative weight, role or function in resolving or addressing a student’s issues/ concerns beyond bringing group advocacy trends to AMS elected student Executives, who are the voice of students
  • For us to provide the service of highest quality, please give us at least 7 days in advance to the hearing
  • Please note that there is only one coordinator, therefore we ask you to remain patient if your email correspondence is delayed
  • We cannot guarantee the outcome, but we can ensure you that we are on your side. We’ve got your back!

Resources

Policies

Other Resources

Need More Info?

If You've Been Accused of Cheating

A special committee called the President’s Advisory Committee (PAC) on Student Discipline advises the UBC President on the appropriate discipline in cases of cheating.

To be accused of cheating someone has to submit a formal statement of allegation to the PAC that includes things like the facts, evidence and a list of witnesses that support the allegation.

Once the Committee receives that statement they will set a hearing date on this allegation and contact you. They’ll also provide you with the formal statement and evidence that was submitted against you.

What happens after you’ve been contacted?

  • After you’ve been contacted by the PAC, you’re required to complete a Statement of Response at least 10 working days prior to the hearing date. This is your chance to respond to the allegations, provide additional information and evidence that support your side of the story.

What should you do between the statement of response and the hearing?

  • Prepare! Use this time to build your case. You’ll have to respond to the allegations before the Committee, present your evidence and question witnesses, so be ready.
  • Seek Help. You’re allowed to be represented or assisted at the hearing by any person, including the AMS Advocate or legal counsel. To be represented by legal counsel, you must inform the Committee at least 10 working days prior to the hearing. You’re also allowed to use the services of an interpreter if you need to

Remember. You don’t have to go through the hearing alone!

At the Hearing

  • On the day of your hearing, make sure you are prepared, well-rested and on time. This is your opportunity to tell your side of the story! The Committee might question you, the person who made the allegation or the witnesses. The person who made the allegations might present the allegation or question witnesses, and you will also have a chance to respond to the allegations and question witnesses.

After the Hearing

  • Once the hearing is over, the Committee will prepare their report and submit it to the University President. The most important circumstance considered by the Committee is the student’s state of mind at the time of alleged academic misconduct. The President will then decide if disciplinary action will be taken, and if so, what action that will be.

    Once the President has decided you’ll informed of the final decision.

How to appeal a grade

Check out the UBC Academic Regulations and Grading Practices

  1. Talk to your instructor.
  2. Review the criteria for grading with your instructor. Sometimes they’ll give you the answer sheet, or their rubric, or whatever. Again, visit the UBC Calendar for information about viewing marked examinations.
  3. If you have reason to believe that you weren’t graded fairly, you can fill out a Review of Assigned Standing and submit it to the Registrar’s Office. The Advocacy Office can help you complete the paperwork on that.

If filing with the dean’s office doesn’t get you anywhere, you can file an appeal with the Senate’s Committee on Academic Standing here

Disputes between a graduate student and supervisor

Communication is probably the most important aspect of the student/supervisor relationship. The Ombuds Office is the expert on building communication frameworks and resolving differences, so they can help you make your relationship more productive. For further assistance, the GSS Advocacy office can offer service that is better tailored to the needs of graduate students.

Missed an examination

For everything except finals, you can contact your instructor first, then the head of your department to problem-solve a missed assessment. This includes papers, midterms, quizzes, and any other interim assessment. For finals, however, the process is more formal.

Withdrawals

“Dropping a course” means de-registering from a course and getting a full refund on tuition and the whole thing gets wiped from your record and it’s like nothing ever happened.

“Withdrawing form a course” means receiving a “W” standing on the course and no letter grade. There’s a deadline for withdrawing, which depends on the length of the course and the session it’s offered in.

Quality of Instruction

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of instruction in a course, you should contact the head of the department the course is offered in. The Ombuds Office can help you with that.

Major/Minor Applications

The primary criteria programs used in figuring out where to put you is your grades. Sometimes, however, your faculty will consider other qualifications. If you’ve worked in a field, or have some other experience, approach your faculty and ask if they will consider other qualifications. If you have to write an appeals letter, the Ombuds Office can help.

Failed a Year

Every faculty has their own conditions for advancement from year to year. If you fail a year, you may appeal the requirement to withdraw. The Ombuds Office can help you put together an appeal. Before you do that, though, talk to your academic advisor, and they’ll help you determine your options.

Practicum and Co-op disputes

If you have a dispute with your supervisor at a co-op or practicum placement, you should work with your faculty advisor or coordinator first. You should make this contact as soon as problems emerge in order to avoid complications – the sooner you address the problem, the better chance you have of solving it.

The Ombuds Office can be really helpful in this situation because your faculty advisor or coordinator is split in their responsibilities. They have to look after you, and they have to maintain their relationship with the employer. The Ombuds Office can help because they have no vested interest, and therefore no possibility of a conflict.

Visit the UBC Calendar page for more information on Academic disputes

What is Contract Cheating

Contract Cheating is a form of academic dishonesty in which a student employs another person or organization to complete their academic work for them, which the student then submits as their own work.

For example:

  • Buying a paper, or even just portions of a paper, from someone else
  • Buying test or assignment answers from someone else
  • Colluding with others on a take-home exam or test (when the assignment is supposed to be done independently)
  • Allowing someone else to use your work for academic credit

Consequences of Contract Cheating

You can get blackmailed

It is not uncommon for students that utilize Contract Cheating services to be exploited by the provider. Providers of Contract Cheating services collect information about students, including financial information.Students have been the victim of blackmail by the organization that provided the materials or essays to them, demanding further payment or threatening to release their name to the university.

Direct violation of academic integrity

Each university has a policy on academic integrity, which all students are expected to know, understand, and follow. UBC’s academic integrity policy is based on, “honesty, civility, and integrity… At the most basic level, this means submitting only original work done by you and acknowledging all sources of information or ideas and attributing them to others as required. This also means you should not cheat, copy, or mislead others about what your work is; nor should you help others do the same.”

Contract Cheating is a direct violation of this policy, and undermines the academic enterprise of the university. For this reason, violations of academic integrity are taken very seriously. Some of the consequences the university may enforce include giving a mark of zero on the assignment or exam, giving a mark of zero for the course, or suspension. For more information on these consequences, please see, “What happens if you are accused of Academic Misconduct (i.e. cheating) at UBC?”

Devaluation of Education

Contract Cheating devalues the education of both the person that cheats AND the education of their peers.

While there are tangible consequences (e.g. receiving a mark of zero an assignment or course) there are other long-term consequences too. Those who cheat don’t learn as much and they don’t develop the skills needed to be successful in their field. This can prevent them from progressing in their degree and it is particularly damaging for people that contract cheat in prerequisite courses, as they are setting themselves up for failure in higher level courses. For professional and specialized degrees, like engineering and medicine, this is also dangerous, as those who cheat are not properly qualified to work in their field.

Contract Cheating also unfairly penalizes those who don’t cheat. When cheaters receive higher grades, rewards, and accolades, these are achieved at the expense of other students, preventing those who actually did the work from being rewarded. This devalues the education of other students who have followed the academic integrity policy and contributes to the commercialization of education..

Developing Harmful Behaviours

Integrity is a valuable characteristic that extends beyond an academic career. Taking the “shortcut” to save time on an assignment now desensitizes people from taking shortcuts elsewhere in life, often leading to the development of harmful behaviours. While the percentage of students that have actually engaged in Contract Cheating is low (3.5%), the rates of re-offending are quite high, at 62.5%, as people who cheat often develop an unhealthy dependence on such services. Contract Cheating creates a culture of dishonesty, and the personal ramifications of violating academic integrity are often underestimated but have the most significant long-term effects.

Sources

Curtis, Guy J.; Clare, Joseph (2017-04-20). “How Prevalent is Contract Cheating and to What Extent are Students Repeat Offenders?”. Journal of Academic Ethics. 15 (2): 115–124. doi:10.1007/s10805-017-9278-x. ISSN 1570-1727.

“Students Warned against Using ‘Essay Mill’ Sites to Write Dissertations.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 May 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/may/19/students-warned-against-using-essay-mill-sites-to-write-dissertations

Ombuds Office

An Ombuds acts impartially, is independent of every administrative body, and provides confidential service. If you’re not sure how to approach a problem you’re having with the AMS, the AMS Ombuds can help you.

The bread and butter of the Ombuds Office is helping students and AMS staff by providing conflict resolution services. Services include:

  • Providing conflict management services to AMS clubs and constituencies undergoing internal conflicts;
  • Receiving and investigating complaints about the AMS.

Internal disputes can be a destructive, frustrating mess, and disputes among leadership teams can tank an organization. The Ombuds Office can help steer conflicts towards a productive, positive direction. As well, they can help you understand one another and reach a resolution that is practical, acceptable, and understood by everyone involved.


Getting Ombuds assistance

The Ombuds Office needs to really understand your situation in order to help you effectively. Please contact the ombudsperon via email or telephone to set up an appointment. You can also drop by the office during opening hours.

Ombudsperson

Oluwakemi Oke
ombudsperson@ams.ubc.ca

(604) 822-4846

NEST 3119

Office hours: By appointment only.

reporting an incident

If you would like to begin a formal investigation, start by submitting the applicable report form.

Other valuable resources

  • If you feel emotionally distressed and require immediate assistance, please drop by the AMS Speakeasy desk (NEST 3125) and ask to speak with a Peer Supporter. You can also contact UBC Counselling Services or visit them during drop in hours. 
  • If you need help outside of Ombuds, Speakeasy and UBC Counselling Services hours, you can phone the Vancouver Crisis Centre at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
  • For academic issues, an Academic Advisor is the first person you can contact. Your faculty will have a number for them.
  • For anything relating to sexualized violence, get in touch with the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC). 
  • For anything relating to equity and inclusion, visit UBC’s Equity and Inclusion Office website.
  • For anything relating to fair treatment at UBC, visit UBC’s Office of Ombudsperson For Students website.

If you have any concerns regarding the AMS Ombudsperson, you can direct them to the Human Resources Committee at hcom@ams.ubc.ca. 

 

Need More Info?

What is the AMS’s Sexual Violence Policy (I-17)?

The AMS Sexual Violence Policy (I-17) is designed to affirm the AMS’s zero tolerance for sexual violence and to provide procedures for the disclosure, reporting, and investigations of sexual violence within the AMS.

What is the difference between a Report and a Disclosure?

A Report is a formal, written statement of an incident of Sexual Violence completed with the intention and consent for an investigation to be initiated. A Disclosure is the communication of an incident of Sexual Violence that does not initiate an investigation.

Why does the AMS have its own policy separate from UBC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy?

UBC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy deals with individuals and actions that is within UBC’s jurisdiction, such as the campus and academics. However, the AMS is an entity that is independent from UBC, which means that there are items that are only within the AMS’s jurisdiction. The AMS Sexual Violence Policy deals with all UBC students, specifically surrounding AMS Clubs, Student Societies, and the Nest. However, this does not mean that you cannot decide to report an incident under both policies. There may be instances in which both the AMS and UBC have jurisdiction to handle a case – the difference would be that the AMS and UBC’s corrective action as a result of a case.

I’m a graduate student at UBC, can I still report a case of Sexual Violence under the AMS’s Sexual Violence Policy?

All students enrolled at UBC, including graduate students, are considered AMS Members and able to report or disclose cases of sexual violence under the AMS’s Sexual Violence Policy.

Can I report my case to both UBC and the AMS?

Yes, if you are looking to have the Respondent suspended from an AMS Club, the Nest, and AMS operated events, then the AMS would be appropriate body to report to. If you are looking to have the Respondent removed from the UBC campus and/or their academics, then UBC’s Independent Investigations Office would be the appropriate body to report to.

Am I still able to report if the case of sexual violence occurred off-campus?

Yes, if the Respondent is an AMS Member (i.e. a UBC student) or an AMS Staff and the incident occurred off-campus, you can submit a Report to the AMS.

If I choose to report, how much involvement will be required of me during the investigation?

The Investigator will conduct the Investigation in the manner they deem as most appropriate. This includes meeting or requesting further information from you when necessary. The amount of involvement will vary with each individual report. The expected timeline for an investigation is 45-days, but this is subject to changes by the Investigator if they believe that the investigation may take longer.

Someone has reported a case of sexual violence and listed me as a witness. What are my responsibilities? How much involvement is required of me?

The Investigator will only contact witnesses if considered appropriate and necessary, which may include meeting or requesting further information from you. The amount of involvement will vary with each individual report.

What is the difference between submitting a report to the Ombudsperson vs. the Human Resources Manager?

There is no difference between submitting a report to the Ombudsperson or the Human Resources Manager. However, if the Respondent is an AMS Member (i.e. a UBC student), then the Ombudsperson would be assigned as the Investigator unless there is a conflict of interest. The Human Resource Manager acts as the Investigator if the Respondent is an AMS Staff.

Why isn’t the Complainant informed of the corrective actions imposed on the Respondent?

Due to privacy restrictions, the AMS cannot inform the Complainant of the corrective actions imposed on the Respondent unless there is a safety concern.

What will the AMS do to prevent to protect me from retaliation/threats of retaliation?

The AMS prohibits any form of retaliation or threats of retaliation; if either party requests for accommodations or safety measures, the AMS will do its best to provide them. If there has been an incident of retaliation/threats of retaliation, the AMS will impose corrective action on the acting party

What supports are available to persons who are Disclosing or Reporting?

  • The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre
  • The UBC Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office
  • UBC Counselling Services
  • AMS Speakeasy
  • UBC Campus Security

I would like to submit a report, but my experience is not an example of Bullying and Harassment listed in the policy. Can I still report? Who should I contact to determine whether my experience falls under the scope of this policy?

The examples are only intended to provide clarity around the definition of Bullying and Harassment. If you believe your experience falls under the definition of Bullying and Harassment, we encourage you to report if you choose to. For further clarity, please contact the AMS Ombudsperson or the AMS Human Resources Manager.

What occurs during an “informal process?”

The informal process involves a mediation or alternative conflict resolution where the Ombudsperson or Human Resources Manager looks to resolve the conflict between the two parties outside of the process of a formal investigation.

During an investigation, are there measures taken to separate the Respondent and Complainant in the workplace

Yes, if either party requests for accommodations to be made to the Investigator, the AMS will do its best to provide them.