The CSU Student Rights Office is an independent advocacy service offered by the Capilano Students’ Union and is separate from the support and advisory services available to you from the Student Rights and Responsibilities team at Capilano University’s Student Affairs department.

OVERVIEW

Our team in the Student Rights Office is here to help you understand Capilano University’s policies and procedures so that you can protect your rights as a student. Disputes and conflicts with the administration and faculty can be confusing, frustrating, and stressful — but we’re here to help you understand your rights and your options.

Disputes with the administration and faculty can include things like:

  • Academic conflicts such as grades
  • Allegations of cheating and plagiarism
  • Extenuating withdrawals
  • Complaints about instructors
  • Student conduct complaints and sanctions

We’re on your side — the Capilano Students’ Union is an independent non-profit organization, and our staff are not university employees, so you can feel safer being honest with us about your experiences with the university. If you run into problems at CapU and you need support, we encourage you to reach out to us. If you just need us to listen, we’ll never advance a complaint on your behalf without your consent.

How the CSU Student Rights Office can help you

  • Provide a confidential and non-judgmental support system during disputes
  • Explain university policies and procedures in an accessible way
  • Help you understand your rights — and responsibilities — as a CapU student
  • Discuss your options, including possible avenues for appeal
  • Accompany you to university meetings as an observer and support person
  • Connect you with appropriate CSU and Capilano University resources
  • Assist in preparing materials to support your appeal

Understanding the limitations of our support

We are happy to accompany, advise, and support you throughout any dispute or appeal process with the university — but please understand that we are not your lawyer. The CSU Student Rights Office cannot provide you with legal advice nor act as your representative in meetings or hearings at the university.

How to access us

The easiest way to meet with us — even if you’re not sure what support you need yet — is to book a meeting with a member of our Student Rights Office using our appointment calendar. If you think you might need to file an appeal, don’t delay, because there are some important deadlines to remember for certain types of appeals:

  • within 12 months of the start of the requested term for extenuating withdrawals
  • within 10 business days of the end of the previous term for final grade appeals
  • within 21 days of the decision you’re appealing for most other issues

We’re happy to meet with you by video or by telephone. If we don’t have any appointment slots that would give you enough time to receive advice and prepare materials before your appeal deadline, contact us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to make alternate arrangements with you.

BOOK AN ONLINE APPOINTMENT

GUIDANCE AVAILABLE

If you are requesting academic accommodations through Accessibility Services, and you believe that your request has been denied or the accommodation offered by Accessibility Services is inadequate, you have the right to appeal for an accommodation review within the first six weeks of classes. If you appeal, a review panel will be set up, inclusing representation from faculty, students, and the administration. If you decide to proceed with an email, consider reaching out to the CSU for assistance.

In many cases, you can reach out to your instructor for academic accommodations informally. If you are worried that a significant life event may be affecting your academic performance, reach out to your instructor early to discuss how you might be able to work together to ensure that you are still successful. If you feel you need support collecting your thoughts before you reach out to your instructor, reach out to us and we can help.

If you believe that your instructor made an error in how they’ve evaluated an assignment, that your grade is discriminatory or biased, or that you were evaluated in a way that contradicts the course outline, you have the right to appeal your final grade. (If the grade you’re disputing is from something intangible like a presentation or practicum experience, you cannot appeal that grade — work directly with the instructor/chair.)

When you believe that you’ve been assigned an unfair grade:

  1. Try working directly with your instructor about your concerns.
  2. If that doesn’t work, try working with the program’s chair or coordinator.
  3. If steps 1 and 2 don’t work, consider submitting a final grade appeal.

Resources

Capilano University has an Academic Integrity Policy that prohibits cheating and plagiarism. An accusation of cheating or plagiarism is serious and can have a major impact on you as a student, so you have a right to hear about your instructor’s concerns and to discuss those concerns with them before any penalties or sanctions are assigned to you, and you have the right to appeal an academic integrity decision.

When you believe that you’ve been wrongly accused of cheating or plagiarism, or that the penalty or sanction that you received for an academic integrity violation was unfair, you can consider submitting a student appeal.

Resources

Capilano University has a procedure for requesting a withdrawal in extenuating circumstances. Common reasons for an extenuating withdrawal include things like serious medical issues, accidents, and sudden deaths of loved ones. You can apply for an extenuating withdrawal for up to 12 months after the start of the requested term  (this means that you can even withdraw in extenuating circumstances retroactively).

Before you apply for an extenuating withdrawal, it’s nearly always a good idea to meet with the instructor first to discuss possible accommodations or to see if you can negotiate an “incomplete” contract (where you could be allowed to continue working on assignments even after the official course has ended). If that doesn’t work or isn’t an option, then you can consider applying for an extenuating withdrawal.

If you submit an application for an extenuating withdrawal and your application is denied, you can consider submitting a student appeal if you believe that the university’s decision was incorrect or unjust, that the university didn’t follow its extenuating withdrawals policy, or that the university ignored important evidence.

If you disagree with a decision around a practicum or co-op placement, you should first contact your practicum convenor, and if you’re unable to reach a resolution there, you should contact the program’s chair. If you’re not able to reach a resolution working with the convenor and the chair, consider reaching out to us for support. Reach out to us if you need assistance determining to whom you should bring your concerns.

Our office can be a helpful resource in navigating placement disagreements because the convenor and chair are responsible for helping to navigate these disputes, while also being responsible for maintaining relationships with practicum and co-op employers, and so they are balancing your interests against those relationships.

While you have the right to appeal a practicum or co-op placement decision, it is important to understand that the appeal process takes time, and you may not reach a resolution in time to be able to complete a practicum or co-op placement that term. If it is at all possible to reach an informal agreement with the convenor and/or the chair, that is by far the more likely path to a successful outcome and successful practicum/co-op.

If you have a complaint about the professionalism or competence of a Capilano University employee, including instructors, we can often assist in reaching an informal resolution to your concerns by bringing together the appropriate people at the university. This isn’t always an appropriate path forward, though, especially in cases where the complaint is serious. The CSU can help navigate these discussions.

If you have a complaint that cannot be resolved informally, or your concerns are not appropriate for informal resolution, you have the right to file a complaint. We can help you navigate which policies and procedures might apply, and we can help you identify the person to whom your complaint should be made. We are also happy to assist with the preparation and review of your complaint letter.

It is important to know that in many cases, a complaint may not result in any academic or financial outcome for you — however, complaints are important records that can influence future changes to policies, procedures, and student services. If the university agrees with your complaint, there are times when they will not be able to tell you the specific actions that they have taken against someone in response to your complaint.

The university also has a protected disclosure policy, which is way of making a good faith complaint about suspected wrongdoing at the university with protection from reprisal. This mechanism is rarely accessed, and is unlikely to lead to resolution or outcomes — however, it is a way of raising concerns with a lower risk of retribution.

If you’ve read up on university policies and procedures, you might have seen references to a body called the student appeals committee. This committee is a body chaired by the university registrar and its membership includes students, faculty members, and staff; however, the full student appeals committee rarely meets. Rather, this is a pool of people from which the registrar appoints three-member tribunals to hear appeals.

It is very difficult to advance an appeal to a stage at which it would be considered by a tribunal; the more likely outcome is that an appeal is dismissed completely before this stage, or an administrator accepts the appeal before it reaches tribunal consideration. If you do have an appeal that advances all the way to this stage, most of the time a decision is made based on written submissions only. You can only request an oral hearing if you’re appealing a suspension or expulsion from the university.

While this may all sound intimidating, don’t worry — we’re here to support you. If your appeal reaches tribunal consideration, reach out to us so that we can help with the review and preparation of your materials and, if you’re attending an oral hearing to appeal a suspension or expulsion, someone from our office can accompany you as a support person (but remember, we cannot represent you or speak at oral hearings).