Filing a Complaint

If you would like to file a complaint under the Code of Student Conduct or discuss whether a matter is related to the Code, call the Assistant Director, Student Culture and Experience during business hours at 902-491-6676 or email studentconduct@smu.ca. The Office of Student Affairs and Services manages complaints about the behaviour of students. If you have a complaint about a staff member, faculty member, or instructor, you should speak with their direct supervisor (Program Coordinator, Associate Dean, Manager of the service, etc.).

If you are concerned about a student or believe they may become a risk to themselves or the community, please contact the Assistant Director, Student Culture and Experience during business hours at 902-491-6676 or via email lyndsay.anderson@smu.ca.

Please note that if there is an immediate risk of harm to self or others, or if it is an emergency, contact University Security at 902-420-0000 or call 9-1-1.

See more information on how to support students in distress.

Who can file a complaint?

Any Saint Mary’s community member (student, faculty or staff) can file a complaint or concern regarding a student’s behaviour.

As well, any member of the Saint Mary’s community can contact the Office of Student Affairs and Services during business hours to consult about a matter and without lodging a formal complaint.

The Office of Student Affairs and Services will review the concern. In doing so, we may need to connect with University Security, the Conflict Resolution Advisor, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and other departments as well as community stakeholders to gather more information.

We utilize a variety of formal and informal approaches to create opportunities for resolution. We welcome requests for consultation and questions.

Submitting a complaint

A complaint is a written statement (email is accepted) that outlines events/occurrences indicating a breach/violation of the Code of Student Conduct. 

Complaints typically include the following:

  • The name and contact information of the complainant (the person submitting the complaint)
  • The name of the respondent (the person who is alleged to have breached/violated the Code)
  • Dates and times of the incidents/behaviours
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses (if available) and what they observed
  • A brief description of the incidents/behaviours that led to the complaint being submitted
  • A statement of the desired outcome (if known)

Any member of the Saint Mary’s community can contact the Assistant Director, Student Culture and Experience during business hours to consult about a matter and without lodging a formal complaint.

Once a complaint is filed

All complaints are investigated following a fair and transparent process. All parties are kept up-to-date on the progress of an investigation and will be advised of potential outcomes.

  1. Review of the complaint: The Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) first determines whether there is sufficient information to support a Code violation and whether the misconduct is covered under the Code.
  2. Notification and meeting with the complainant and respondent: If the conduct can be addressed under the Code, the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) will connect with the complainant and the respondent - the student whom the complaint is filed against -  to discuss the matter.  Both parties will receive notification to meet.  The respondent will be provided with a written summary of the allegations.  The Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) will keep both parties aware of the progress of the investigation.
  3. Application of interim measures: In cases where there are reasonable grounds to conclude that a student’s presence on campus poses a risk of harm to the community, then an interim measure of a temporary suspension or restrictions from specific areas/activities/actions can be applied.
  4. Investigation and complaint resolution: As part of resolving the concerns, the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) may speak to witnesses or any other relevant party. If it is determined that there was a breach of the Code, the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) may resolve the concerns informally (usually, the respondent has taken accountability for the incident and agrees to a suitable remedy) or formally (the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services or designate imposes a sanction or remedy under the Code or refers the case to the Adjudication Panel).
  5. Notification of outcome: The results of the investigation and reasons for decision are normally communicated only to the person who made the complaint and the respondent. There may be circumstances where other offices of the university - such as University Security or the Registrar’s Office - will need to be notified if penalties/remedies are to be implemented.

Preparing for a Meeting

If you have received a meeting request from the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) regarding a Code of Student Conduct complaint, reply as soon as possible to confirm your availability. If you do not respond to the request, a decision about the complaint - including remedies/penalties - can be made without your input.

Anyone meeting with the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) regarding a Code complaint may bring a support person to the meeting. 

If a Code complaint has been made against you:

  1. With the notification, you will receive a written summary of the complaint against you. Review these details carefully so you understand what has been alleged.
  2. If you have any documentation (i.e. emails, text messages, etc.) that is related to the complaint, you should consider bringing those materials to the meeting with you.
  3. If you can think of any potential witnesses, bring their names and contact information with you to the meeting.
  4. Consider if you want to bring a support person with you to the meeting. Advise the Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services (or designate) in advance if you want to bring a support person. A support person should be someone you trust and someone not directly involved in the incident/case. They do not speak on your behalf but you may consult with them at any time during the process. 
  5. Review what possible remedies/penalties can be imposed against you so you understand what the potential consequences are. You can ask questions during the meeting about the Code, the investigation, and the potential outcomes.
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