6. Conduct Process and Procedures 2019-2020

Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness

The Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness must prevail in Judicial Procedures to uphold the principle that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. The principles are explained below:

  • The resident has the right to be informed of the allegation(s) of offense(s).
  • The resident is entitled to an opportunity to respond to allegation(s) of offense(s) at a meeting with residence staff and is also entitled to a reasonable notice of the time, place and nature of the meeting.
  • The resident is presumed not to be guilty of the alleged offense(s) until an impartial and unbiased Decision-maker has determined the offense(s).
  • The resident is entitled to reasonable disclosure of evidence of the Incident Report prior to a decision. Fact-finding occurs at a meeting with the Decision-maker.
  • At meetings to discuss level three offenses, the resident is entitled to call a reasonable number of witnesses to the meeting to discuss alleged offense(s). This must be arranged with the Decision-maker prior to the meeting.
  • The resident is entitled to be advised in writing of the decision about the alleged offense(s) and the sanction(s) applied (if any).The decision about guilt or innocence and any associated sanction(s) should be made within a reasonable time.

Standard of Proof

The information necessary to prove that an offense has occurred is referred to as the standard of proof. Outside of a court of law, the model used by Seneca College is called the Balance of Probabilities. The standard of proof has been met if at the conclusion of an investigation, based on all credible information, the Decision-maker believes that the incident reported probably occurred. This means that the information provided in the Incident Report and in the judicial meeting demonstrated that the violation is more likely than not to have occurred. The standard of proof for criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt, which does not apply in Residence Judicial Procedures.

Incident Reports and Judicial Meetings

A summary of the Judicial Process is presented in the chart following this section. Residence staff will record behaviours, actions or negligence that may be offenses against Residence Community Living Standards in Incident Reports. When necessary, the Incident Report may also include appendices, such as e-mails, photographs, and/or Security, Police or Fire reports. Residence staff will notify the resident(s) of the alleged offense(s) and will notify them of a meeting to discuss the matter.

The purpose of a Judicial Meeting between a resident and a residence staff member (Decision-maker) is to investigate allegations of offenses detailed in an Incident Report. This is the opportunity for residents to be heard and explain their behaviour to the residence staff member. While these meetings must comply with the Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness and may result in formal sanctions, they are not designed to be highly formal in nature. At the conclusion of the meeting the residence staff member will follow-up with the resident in writing with a Decision Letter, which will outline all necessary decisions about offenses, sanctions and any related deadlines. If the resident fails to attend the Judicial Meeting with the residence staff member, the residence staff member may choose to proceed and make a decision based upon all evidence available.

Communication between Resident(s) and Residence Staff

Residence staff will endeavor to communicate with residents via several methods to discuss Incident Reports, deliver Decision Letters, and any other important aspects of the judicial process: (a) a telephone call to the resident’s phone provided to them in their room or the phone number on their residence application, (b) an e-mail to their Seneca College e-mail account or the account provided in their application, (c) a letter placed in a residents mailbox or under a resident’s room door, or (d) in person. Attempts to contact and communicate with a resident is deemed to be
satisfactory when any two of the above methods have been used by Residence Staff.

Seneca Residence Judicial Process

  1. Incident Report: Alleged violations of the RCLS are documented by Residence Staff in an Incident Report
  2. Alleged Level 1 & 2 Offences Judicial Meeting with RLC (or designate): Resident(s) meet with the RLC to review the Incident Report.
  3. Alleged Level 3 Offences Judicial Meeting with RLM (or designate): Resident(s) meet with the RLM/OM to review the Incident Report.
  4. Decision Letter: RLC communicates decision about allegations, offences, and sanctions to Resident(s) in writing.
  5. Incident Referred to RLM (or designate): In situations where Resident(s) are repeat offenders or Level 3 offences are assessed, the Incident will be referred to the RLM (or designate)
  6. Decision Letter RLM (or designate): Communicates decision about allegations, offences, and sanctions to Resident(s) in writing.

RESIDENCE EMERGENCIES

Although the three levels of Offences and the Judicial Procedures are intended to apply to most situations related to behaviour, there are conditions that warrant a heightened level of concern for safety, security, health and wellbeing. These conditions require special authority and guidelines. The following definitions and procedures ensure a swift, effective response to conditions to protect Residents, guests, staff, the community and the Institution. In consultation with the College and its threat assessment and emergency procedures, the Director, Residence Operations is granted extraordinary authority to respond to Resident Emergencies.

Definition of a Residence Emergency

In consultation with the College, the Director is authorized to determine if Residence Emergency conditions exist, which is defined by any one of the following:

  • evidence that a Resident, student, or staff has been harmed or appears to be in danger of harm,
  • evidence that a Resident, student, or staff has harmed or poses a threat to harm another individual or the community,
  • evidence that a Resident, student, or staff has inflicted self-harm or appears to be in danger of doing so.

Residence Emergency Procedures

In consultation with the College, the Director is authorized to:

  • suspend other rules in order to invoke a swift response to a Residence Emergency
  • turn the matter immediately over to appropriate authorities
  • immediately relocate the Resident(s) involved within the Residence or off campus, pending a meeting with the Resident
  • authorize an Exclusion, which takes effect immediately and without notice, pending a meeting with the Resident. This means that the individual:
    • is prohibited from accessing any service or facility of the Residence
    • may be escorted from the Residence and/or the campus
  • determine Sanction(s) at Levels 1, 2, and 3, following a meeting with the Resident.

APPEAL PROCEDURES

A summary of the Appeal Procedures is presented in the chart following this section. The following general principles apply to all appeals:

  • The Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness must prevail in Appeal Procedures to ensure compliance with the principle that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done.
  • Any resident found in violation of the RLCS is entitled to submit an appeal, based in the grounds for an appeal mentioned below.
  • A resident has 72 hours from the date they receive their Decision Letter to start the appeal process. Staff will endeavour to respond to appeal requests within 72 hours of receiving them.
  • Depending on the original decision rendered the appeal process proceeds via one of two processes: the Appeal Process or the Eviction Appeal Process, which are detailed below.

THE APPEAL PROCESS

  • The Appeal Process is in place for all decisions excluding Eviction.
  • Students may complete an Appeal Request Form and submit it to the Residence Office, within 72 hours of receiving the decision letter. The resident requesting an appeal must demonstrate that they have grounds, which includes providing evidence of one of the following items:
    1. Bias: Alleged and reasonable apprehension of bias of the Decision-maker who imposed the sanction(s).
    2. Procedural Fairness: Alleged substantive failure by the Decision-maker to comply with the Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness, which may have affected the decision.
    3. New information: Substantive new evidence which could not have been available to the Decision-maker when making the decision.
    4. Alternative Sanctions: The resident may request for their sanction to be altered by suggesting options that are equivalent in nature to the original decision (this is not applicable to evictions).
  • Once the Appeal Request Form is received, the resident(s) will be contacted in writing within 72 hours to setup an appeal meeting. If the appeal is granted, the GM (or designate) will set-up an Appeal Meeting with the resident(s).
  • The individual or committee considering the appeal may, after reviewing the case:
    1. uphold the findings and/or sanctions;
    2. reverse the findings; or
    3. reverse or modify the sanctions.
  • During an appeal, all sanctions (minus financial sanctions) remain valid until they are reversed or modified by the individual or committee hearing the appeal. Financial sanctions will not be applied until a decision has been made.
  • All decisions made in an appeal are final and are not subject to further appeals.

THE EVICTION PROCESS

  • If the resident has grounds for an appeal, the resident may complete the Appeal Request Form and submit it to the Director, College Services (or designate), within 72 hours of receiving the eviction. The resident requesting the appeal must demonstrate that they have grounds, which includes providing evidence of one of the following items:
    1. Bias: Alleged and reasonable apprehension of bias of the Decision-maker who imposed the sanction(s).
    2. Procedural Fairness: Alleged substantive failure by the Decision-maker to comply with the Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness, which may have affected the decision.
    3. New information: Substantive new evidence which could not have been available to the Decision-maker when making the decision.
  • Once an eviction Appeal Request Form is received, Director, College Services (or designate) will review the grounds for the appeal and make a decision to either deny the appeal or set-up an Eviction Appeal Hearing. The resident(s) will be contacted within 72 hours to notify them of this outcome.
  • If the appeal is granted, the Director, College Services (or designate) will set-up the Eviction Appeal Committee, which will be comprised of three (3) members of the Student Life Activity Committee. One of the members of the Eviction Appeal Committee must be a student, and one member must be a member of Residence Senior Management. Residents appealing an eviction will be provided with additional information about Appeal Hearing procedures.
  • The Eviction Appeal Committee will communicate a decision in writing to the resident. The committee will review all evidence and may decide to:
    1. uphold the findings and/or sanctions;
    2. reverse the findings; or
    3. reverse or modify the sanctions;
  • During a, appeal, all sanctions (minus financial sanctions) remain valid until they are reversed or modified by the individual or committee hearing the appeal. Financial sanctions will not be applied until a decision has been made.
  • All decisions made in an Eviction Appeal Hearing are final and are not subject to further appeals.

APPEAL MEETING PROCEDURES (Levels 1 – 3)

In this section, the resident appealing the eviction is referred to as the appellant.

  1. The hearing will proceed as scheduled, even if the appellant does not attend.
  2. The appellant may bring witnesses to the appeal hearing. Participation of witnesses shall be limited to providing evidence and responding to questions from the appeal committee. Witnesses may be present at the hearing only when providing evidence or responding to questions from the appeal committee.
  3. The appellant may bring one support person to the appeal hearing; however, support persons shall not participate in the appeal unless called on by the Chair to do so. Participants are required to provide the name and relationship of their support person to the Appeal Committee a minimum of 48 hours prior to the hearing.

EVICTION APPEAL HEARING PROCEDURES

In this section, the resident appealing the eviction is referred to as the appellant and the Residence staff whose decision is being appealed is referred to as the respondent.

  1. The hearing will proceed as scheduled, even if the appellant or the respondent do not attend.
  2. The appellant and respondent may bring witnesses to the appeal hearing. Participation of witnesses shall be limited to providing evidence and responding to questions from the appeal committee. Witnesses may be present at the hearing only when providing evidence or responding to questions from the appeal committee.
  3. The appellant and respondent may bring one support person to the appeal hearing; however, support persons shall not participate in the appeal unless called on by the Chair to do so. Participants are required to provide the name and relationship of their support person to the Appeal Committee a minimum of 48 hours prior to the hearing.
  4. The appeal hearing shall proceed as follows:
    • An initial briefing and review of the case by the committee members;
    • Presentation of the case by the appellant;
    • Presentation of information by the respondent;
    • Subsequent re-examination of either party or any witnesses if required.
  5. Each appeal shall be considered independently and on its own merits.
  6. The Appeal Committee will carefully consider only:
    • The appeal grounds;
    • The evidence supporting the grounds presented orally (during the hearing);
    • The written evidence presented in the appeal letter, appeal request form and supporting documents;
    • The written evidence presented in the respondent’s response submission;
    • Any written evidence accepted by the appeal committee from the appellant or respondent during the hearing, providing that the appellant and respondent both had a reasonable opportunity to read, understand and respond to the document.
  7. At no time should the committee deal with any matter outside the specific concerns set out in the request for appeal.
  8. The burden of proof in a disciplinary appeal rests with the appellant, who must make a case to convince the appeal committee to decide in the appellant’s favour.
  9. All information reviewed and discussed during an appeal shall remain confidential.
  10. In addressing the appellant’s specific concern(s), the appeal committee should feel free to direct the parties to provide and produce additional material or witnesses directly related to the appeal.

Residence Appeal Process

Appeal Request Form
Resident completes this form to request an appeal

Levels 1-3 Appeal Process
Appeal Meeting with Manager: Resident presents appeal based on listed grounds to a Manager for consideration. All decisions made by the Manager hearing the appeal are final.

Eviction Appeals
Appeal Meeting with Eviction Appeal Committee: Resident (appellant) and Residence Staff (respondent) meet with the committee for consideration of the eviction appeal. All decisions made by the Eviction Appeal Committee are final.