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The University affirms the value of autonomous student organizations operating independently and without interference from the University in their day-to-day operations. However, autonomy must be exercised in a manner that is compliant with the law and University policy. Further, all student organizations must conduct themselves in an open, accessible, and democratic manner.
Policy on Open, Accessible and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations
A dispute resolution process, including a review or appeal of disputes can assist in maintaining the elements of openness, accessibility, and democracy within an organization. Part of openness, accessibility, and democracy is to have good internal processes that deal effectively and fairly with disputes and complaints, and to ensure that these are well understood and open in a fair and reasonable way to all who are affected.
On occasion, a dispute may not be resolved internally and a process of review or appeal that goes beyond the specific student society may be required for resolution to be achieved. Therefore, there is a requirement for a University-wide complaint and resolution process applicable to student societies: the University Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS).
While student societies range in size, interest, and level of activity, all societies are characterized by three common elements:
- they both represent, and are accountable to, given constituencies within the University;
- membership is automatic with registration in academic divisions (or, where applicable, University residence); and
- all society members are charged a compulsory fee as part of their total payment to the University.
If you have a complaint or concern pertaining to a society’s openness, accessibility, or democratic nature, you must first pursue the society’s own complaints mechanism.
If you have exhausted the society’s complaints mechanism, then the Policy on Open, Accessible and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations provides for a dispute resolution process in the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS).
- The complainant shall outline the nature of the complaint and confirm that the society’s complaint procedure has been exhausted, in writing to the Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Chair shall confirm that the society’s own internal complaint mechanism has been exhausted before a complaint may be referred to the CRCSS.
- Where an agreement between two or more Student Societies contains a mechanism for resolution of disputes among them, such a complaint mechanism must be exhausted before such a complaint may be referred to the CRCSS.
- The Chair shall inform the Student Society of the complaint and shall inform both the complainant and the Society against whom the complaint has been made (“the responding society”) of the names of the CRCSS panel members chosen to review the complaint.
- The complainant and the responding Society will have an opportunity to write to the Chair to raise an objection of conflict of interest or bias regarding the CRCSS members chosen to review the complaint. The Chair will rule upon the matter of any objection and may, based on the information provided by the Society, select an alternative student member at the Chair’s discretion.
- The responding Society will be provided with a copy of the complaint and will have an opportunity to submit a written response to the allegations in the complaint to the CRCSS.
- The CRCSS Panel shall review the information provided, request additional information, and/or conduct interviews.
- The CRCSS Panel shall determine the outcome based on the information gathered. The deliberations of the CRCSS Panel will be conducted in private and will be confidential.
- The complaint shall be considered by the CRCSS Panel in a timely manner.
- The CRCSS Panel may consider, but is not bound by, previous decisions.
- The CRCSS Panel will make its recommendations in writing with reasons which will be provided to the complainant, the responding society, and to the Vice-President and Provost.
Below are the decisions made by the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies (CRCSS). For each decision, a panel of students was selected to review the complaint. In addition to those listed below, there have been several complaints that have been managed by their respective student societies prior to the review by the panel. Complaints pertaining to recognized student groups are not within the purview of the CRCSS and are forwarded to the appropriate Student Affairs/Student Life office for follow-up.
As per the Policy on Open, Accessible, Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations, “the CRCSS Panel has the power, in its discretion, to determine that no further action is required; to pursue informal resolution among the parties; to issue a reprimand where it determines that a Student Society has not operated in an open, accessible and democratic fashion or followed its constitution; to recommend to a society that changes to its by-laws, constitution, or operational processes be made; to recommend that actions be taken by the Student Society to enhance openness, accessibility and democratic operation; and/or to recommend to the Vice-President and Provost that fees be withheld pursuant to the Policy for Compulsory Non-Academic Incidental Fees. The authority to withhold fees remains the Vice-President and Provost’s.”
The decisions made by the CRCSS are shared with the Vice-President and Provost, and the appropriate University office(s) for follow-up, if required.