Know Your Rights
From YUGSA’s 2016-2017 Handbook:
It is important to familiarize yourself with The Faculty of Graduate Studies’ (FGS) regulations as well as your own program’s policies, procedures and guidelines. If you do not know where to obtain this information or need help understanding these documents please contact the Student Services Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are facing any issues at York that you are not sure how to address, please feel welcome to drop by the YUGSA office to discuss your concerns with the Student Services Coordinator or the Vice President Equity. You can also email email@example.com or call 416.736.5865 to speak to the Student Services Coordinator.
Some of the issues that we can support you on include:
• Issues with your professors, supervisors, graduate program directors, York staff, or York offices
• Funding Issues (not related to employment at York – we would refer you to CUPE 3903)
• Allegations of academic misconduct
• Experiences of discrimination, harassment, or lack of accommodation, including discrimination or harassment based on “race,” gender, ethnicity, sexuality, sexual orientation, religion, and ability
• Petitions and/or appeals
When should you come seek support?
You should definitely come see us if you are experiencing any of the issues listed above. Some graduate students try to resolve these issues by themselves or ignore them altogether causing the situation to escalate. By speaking with your graduate student advocate, you might be able to address problems early on and avoid/resolve conflicts and stressful situations. If you aren’t sure where to access support for any issue, whether it is academic or not, please feel welcome to come to the YUGSA to talk to an advocate.
What will a YUGSA Advocate do?
• Listen to your concerns carefully and take them seriously
• Ask questions to clarify and assess the situation based on information provided
• Direct you to information regarding University regulations, policies and procedures
• Explore how to address the situation and discuss possible solutions/outcomes
• Offer to make inquires to obtain information when appropriate
• Offer to intervene by setting up meetings with University administration, faculty and staff when appropriate
• At your request, a representative from the YUGSA can attend meetings with you as a support person
• Keep your case records confidential
• Refer you to other appropriate and relevant services and supports as required
What can’t YUGSA do?
• Fill out forms on students’ behalf
• Provide legal advice or services
• Resolve employment issues with York (we would refer you to CUPE 3903)
All information you provide the graduate student advocate will be kept confidential. Information will only be shared with third parties with your consent.
How to prepare your case
Familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures of your program, department and faculty. With over 50 graduate programs at York, we may not be familiar with the policies specific to your program.
Tell your advocate the whole story truthfully. We are not able to defend you against issues or factors that we are not aware of.
Please keep notes of any interactions (in-person, over the phone, email/mail correspondence) that may have an impact on your case. Important information to especially document: the date, the person you spoke to and what was communicated to you.
Guidelines for Filing Petitions and Appeals
• Follow the guidelines for the petition or appeal process. If you are not sure where to obtain this information, please contact the YUGSA
• Pay attention to deadlines specific to appeal committees for your submission. Follow program, departmental, Faculty of Graduate Studies and appeal committee policies; failure to do so may adversely affect the outcome of your case
• Present evidence to support allegations of bias or discrimination
• Develop an argument that is coherent and focused
• Keep detailed documentation of all aspects of your case
York University Faculty of Graduate Studies, Conflict Resolution: http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/thesis-dissertation/supervision/#section1e
“Each graduate program should make available to students information regarding University, Faculty and program requirements and procedures for completion of the master’s or doctoral degree. This information should include the names and areas of expertise of faculty members available for supervision. Furthermore, each graduate program must ensure that the unit provides an atmosphere that is conducive to productivity and creativity, and monitor supervisory relationships within the program.
Each graduate program should have in place a process in the event that supervisory relationships are unsatisfactory for whatever reason, beginning with informal consultation with the program director. In the event that the matter is not resolved at the program-level, consultation with the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies would be the next step.”
FGS Supervision Policy, Supervisors Roles & Responsibilities, Supervisory Committee Roles & Responsibilities, Guidelines for Supervisors, Guidelines for Students: http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/thesis-dissertation/supervision/
FGS Change to Supervisor/Committee:
If a student wishes to change a supervisor, FGS has a form available. Generally this is a last resort if the conflict cannot be resolved. This form is usually completed with the assistance of the GPD (or department Chair if the GPD is also the student’s supervisor): http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/files/2014/06/supervisor-committee-approval.pdf
On-Campus Resources (in ascending order by severity and/or stage of conflict):
Encourage students to consult their handbook and/or programs policies and procedures (can vary from department-to-department). These resources can usually be found on the department’s website. If it’s not easily found, YUGSA recommends asking the GPA. According to FGS section on “Conflict Resolution” each department ought to have a process in place in the event of an unsatisfactory supervisory relationship.
Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Guiding Principles for Graduate Student Supervision, 2008: http://www.cags.ca/documents/publications/working/Guiding%20Principles%20for%20Graduate%20Student%20Supervision%20in%20Canada%20-%20rvsn7.pdf
Office of Student Community Relations (OSCR) “Our mandate is to provide advice, referrals, training, alternate dispute resolution methods, judicial processes (local adjudication, tribunals), critical incident support and student leadership opportunities.” http://oscr.students.uit.yorku.ca/
Office of Student Community Relations (OSCR) “Complaints Against University Employees by students”: http://www.yorku.ca/oscr/faqs.html
Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS), Student Affairs Department can work with students who have exhausted departmental channels, escalate to FGS Associate Dean or FGS Dean if deemed appropriate and necessary:
York Centre for Human Rights “The CHR receives and processes human rights concerns and complaints brought forward by York students, faculty, and staff” (York University’s procedure for dealing with complaints of harrassment or discrimination can also be found here): http://rights.info.yorku.ca/our-services/complaint-case-resolution-and-consultation/
York Ombudsperson “The role of the York University Ombudsperson is to provide an impartial and confidential service to assist current members of York University (students, faculty and staff) who have been unable to resolve their concerns about University authorities application of York University policies, procedures and/or practices”: http://ombuds.info.yorku.ca/
Additional On-Campus Resources:
Community & Legal Aid Services Programme (CLASP): “CLASP is a free legal clinic located in Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. We help people with legal problems who cannot afford a lawyer”: https://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/community-clinics/welcome-community-legal-aid-services-programme-clasp/
Counselling and Disability Services (DCS) “Includes personal counselling (PCS), learning disability services (LDS), mental health disability services (MHDS), physical, sensory & medical disability service (PSMDS) as well as crisis response”:
Glendon Counselling Services “Counselling Services offers a range of services to Glendon students, including personal counselling, career counselling and services for students with disabilities and learning skills instruction.”:
York University Psychology Clinic “YUPC is a state-of-the art community mental health and training centre associated with the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health at York University. The clinic provides a range of leading edge, effective mental health services to keep people of all ages living healthy, productive lives.”
*York University Sexual Violence Response Office “The Sexual Violence Response Office is designated as the first point of contact for those who have experienced sexual violence and will support all members of the York Community – students, faculty and staff.”: http://svresponse.students.uit.yorku.ca/
The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line and Leadership (SASSL) “SASSL exists to provide unbiased and non-judgemental peer support and referrals to survivors of sexual violence. We provide a 24 hour support line during the Fall/Winter semesters of the school year. Our walk-in support is available all year round in our student centre office”: http://sassl.info.yorku.ca/
416-736-2100 ext. 40345; 24/7 Crisis Line: 416-650-8056
Good2Talk “Good2Talk is a free, confidential helpline providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to post-secondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365.”:
Toronto Distress Centres “Provide crisis response and intervention to the emotionally vulnerable and at risk in the community.”
416-408-4357 or 408-HELP
Ontario Mental Health Helpline “The Mental Health Helpline provides information about mental health services in Ontario. An Information and Referral Specialist will answer your call, email or web chat 24/7. The service is free and confidential.”
Community Legal Clinics “Legal Aid Ontario funds 76 community legal clinics throughout the province. Thirteen of these clinics provide specialty legal services. Each is a non-profit legal centre, governed by an independent board of directors representative of the community it serves. Clinics employ lawyers, legal workers, paralegals and administrative staff to provide information, legal advice and representation.”:
ARCH Disability Law Centre “ARCH provides a range of legal services to people with disabilities who live in Ontario, disability advocacy organizations, and the legal profession.”:
Ontario Centre for Human Rights Commission: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/about-commission
Ombudsman Ontario: https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/Make-A-Complaint.aspx