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Advocate FAQ's

Any individual or organization may make a complaint to the University Advocate: there is no requirement that the individual or organization making the complaint be a student, faculty or staff member of the University.

However, the University Advocate has limited jurisdiction and may only investigate complaints made against a member of the University Community as defined in the Code of Conduct. For the most part, the jurisdiction of the University Advocate is therefore limited to complaints made against students of the University.

On receipt of a complaint, the University Advocate will first establish whether or not they have jurisdiction. If they do not have jurisdiction they will refer the person or organization making the complaint to the appropriate authority within the University.

It means that the University Advocate is investigating an allegation that you may have been involved in a breach of the Code of Conduct. At this stage, it is merely an allegation and many allegations can be resolved swiftly. However, it is the function of the University Advocate to investigate all allegations and this may require you to meet with the Advocate.

No. The meeting is a preliminary meeting designed to enable a full investigation to take place. It is an information gathering exercise to enable the Advocate to form an opinion as to how the case can be disposed of.

Remember however, in accordance with the rules of the Code of Conduct, you should be in possession of your valid student ID card and the Advocate will ask you to provide identification so that they can be sure that you are the person against whom the allegation has been made.

The Advocate is required under the Code of Conduct to caution you in the event that the issue proceeds to a full hearing at one of the University adjudicative bodies such as the Discipline Committee or the Appeal Committee. The caution allows the Advocate to continue their investigation so long as you voluntarily consent to the meeting going ahead. If you do not consent, then the Advocate may have to convene a full hearing of the relevant Committee to have the case disposed of.

Agreeing to continue the meeting does not mean that you admit the allegation that is being made.

You will be given an opportunity to present your side of the story. You should be as truthful as possible and not leave out any details, no matter how insignificant that you think they are. The task of the Advocate at this point is to investigate all the facts and they want to hear your version. They will normally ask questions to clarify anything that they are unclear on. Again, it is in your interests to answer as fully and truthfully as possible all such questions.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Advocate will inform you that they are either ready to make a determination of the case at that point in time or that they need to continue their investigation. If they indicate that they will need to continue their investigation, the meeting will terminate and you may be called back for a subsequent meeting where the Advocate's determination will be made known to you.

In many cases, because there is no dispute on the facts, the Advocate may be in a position to make a determination at the end of the meeting. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. No case to answer: The Advocate may determine that no breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred in which case the meeting will terminate and that will be an end to the matter.
  2. Proceed to Discipline: The Advocate may be of the view that the Code of Conduct has been breached and that the matter will have to be referred to the appropriate committee. They will inform you that the disciplinary process will commence and advise you as to what to expect next. You can also refer to the relevant website of the Discipline Committee if that is appropriate.
  3. Voluntary Agreement: The Advocate may be of the view that the Code of Conduct has been breached but that the matter can be resolved by way of a Voluntary Agreement between you and the Advocate. This will normally arise where you admit that you have breached the Code of Conduct and are willing to submit to an agreed sanction. The Advocate will lay out your options clearly and specify what they believe to be an appropriate sanction. You will then be given a period of time to reflect on this and decide whether you wish to accept this voluntary agreement or not. If you choose not to accept the voluntary agreement, then the Advocate will commence proceedings before the Disciplinary process where they will act as a prosecutor on behalf of the University. If you choose to accept the Voluntary Agreement, you need to let the Advocate know and they will explain how the agreement is to be met.

Naturally this will vary from case to case and will depend on all the individual circumstances. However the sanctions that you agree to will not go beyond the permissible sanctions under the Code of Conduct.

No. A voluntary agreement means that you do not have to attend at a Discipline Committee.

In addition to the original alleged violation of the Code of Conduct, you will now be in breach of the Code of Conduct regarding your failure to abide by the voluntary agreement and the Advocate will commence the disciplinary process. You should also note that under the Code of Conduct you will not graduate from the University until you have satisfactorily complied with any voluntary agreement that you may have entered into with the Advocate.

It is the function of the Office of the Provost & Deputy President to monitor compliance with all sanctions under the Code, including voluntary agreements. However, failure to abide by a sanction (including those under a voluntary agreement) is a breach of the Code which will be dealt with by the Advocate.