- The Goal of the Process
- Conduct Expectations
- Informal Process (Minor Incidents)
- Formal Process (More Serious Incidents)
- Possible Actions
- Action Precedent
Student Accountability Policy
Trinity Western University has established standards of conduct, which are intended to contribute to a learning environment conducive to the accomplishment of its mission. Admission to the University is limited to those who agree to comply with these behavioural expectations which apply to every student whether a resident or commuter both on and off campus. In situations involving suspected violations of the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University, students can expect a fair and reasonable response from the University. The Student Accountability Policy in its entirety appears below.
The Goal of the Accountability Process
The goal of the accountability process is to contribute to both the student’s personal and spiritual growth. The objectives of the process are:
- To prayerfully and objectively assess what has occurred and indicate to the student what violation(s) has (have) been committed;
- To demonstrate care and acceptance for the individual even if behaviour may be unacceptable;
- To educate the student, explaining the reasons for the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University;
- To have students decide that their future behaviour will be in keeping with their original commitment to the community through the University’s Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University;
- To have the student accept accountability for his or her behaviour;
- To balance the needs of an individual along with the needs of the greater community.
Experience holding individuals accountable to their word has tended to show that repeated violations of the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University are often indicators of larger issues in the life of a student. It is hoped, therefore, that the accountability process may ultimately challenge the pursuit of change, godliness and character development within individuals.
Each student who accepts an invitation of admission to Trinity Western University has agreed to accept the Community Covenant and policies and guidelines of the University for living in accordance with the community standards of this private, creedal Christian academic community. These are specified in the Community Covenant contract that each student signs. It is the responsibility of each student to clarify any misunderstanding that may arise in their mind before committing their signature to this contract. The University does not view a student’s agreement to comply with these standards and guidelines as a mere formality. Therefore, students who find themselves unable to maintain the integrity of their commitment should seek a living-learning situation more acceptable to them.
In Christian love, respect and responsibility, students are encouraged to seek resolution when tension, misunderstanding, conflict, failure or disagreements have fractured relationship. It is expected that as adult learners, members of our community will seek mutual solution to problems that arise within the context of daily living together. Persisting through personal shortfalls is essential and foundational to successful community living. At a grassroots level, it is expected and encouraged that students, staff and faculty will hold one-another accountable to the commitments each has made to the University and community. Disregard for community responsibility and accountability is considered inappropriate behaviour, viewed as jeopardizing the effectiveness of the learning environment and mission of the University. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own goals and values to ensure that they are not in conflict with the educational environment in which they have chosen to learn.
The student accountability process may be initiated as a result of a complaint against a student brought to Student Life by another member of the community or as a result of concerns from the community regarding a student’s conduct.
Informal Accountability Process (Minor Incidents)
In minor incidents, a designated Student Life staff member will follow up on the allegation or incident. This involves discussing the allegation or incident with the student(s) and determining an appropriate response (verbal or official warning, community service, suitable apologies, fine or appropriate restitution).
Decisions of a Student Life staff member may be appealed, by the student and in writing, to the Director of Community Life within 48 hours of being informed of the decision. A $100 administration fee is required prior to consideration and will be refunded if the appeal is granted. Until an appeal is granted the original decision remains in effect.
Students are encouraged to informally challenge one another and hold each other accountable to the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University out of genuine concern for others within the University community.
Community members, directly working with students in leadership or representative roles, may be notified of violations or incidents involving a student working within their care.
Formal Accountability Process (More Serious Incidents)
In more serious cases, the formal accountability process will be enacted. The formal accountability process often begins when a community member becomes aware of an alleged violation of Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University either through first hand knowledge or on report of an incident. It may also begin when the seriousness of an allegation warrants immediately moving to the formal accountability process or if a problem persists and cannot be solved through the informal accountability process.
An Assistant Director of Community Life or appropriate designate may make the decision that a case moves from informal accountability to the formal accountability process. When this decision is made, the student(s) who has/have been named in the allegation of misconduct will be informed that the allegation is being investigated. Pertinent information is collected to determine if there is sufficient cause for accountability action.
It is the responsibility of Assistant Directors of Community Life or appropriate designate to receive complaints and investigate possible violations of Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University. In the event that an Assistant Director of Community Life or appropriate designate, in his/her sole discretion believes that additional action is required, he/she will schedule an interview with the student. An Assistant Director of Community Life or appropriate designate is responsible to arrange for and conduct an interview with the student, which may include other parties affected by or involved in the incident. Written confirmation of the date and time of the interview will be to the student's university email address prior to the scheduled appointment. Students are responsible for all communication that is sent to their university email address. At the same time the student will be informed of the availability of a counsellor, who may be seen in confidence and at no cost for personal support through the student accountability process. Additionally, the student may contact the TWUSA Ombudsman who will be a resource to the student through the process and provide support as needed. This service is free and completely confidential. Once investigated and interviewed, the matter will be referred to the Director of Community Life who, at his/her sole discretion, will render a decision.
Decisions of the Director of Community Life may be appealed, by the student and in writing, to the VP of Student Life within 72 hours of being informed of the decision. A $100 administration fee is required prior to consideration and will be refunded if the appeal is granted. Until an appeal is granted the original decision remains in effect.
The Director of Community Life, at his/her sole discretion, may refer the matter to the VP of Student Life (e.g., a referral of plagiarism and/or academic dishonesty; in the case of repeated or multiple offences; the student has made deceptive or dishonest statements at the interview; or due to the grievous nature of the violation to the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University). The VP of Student Life, at his/her sole discretion, will either render a decision or refer the matter to the University’s Accountability Committee.
If referred to the University’s Accountability Committee, the VP of Student Life will schedule a meeting and notify the student in writing of its date and time, and of the student’s rights and responsibilities.
Decisions of the VP of Student Life or the University’s Accountability Committee may be appealed, by the student and in writing, to the office of the President within 96 hours of being informed of the decision. A $100 administration fee is required prior to consideration and will be refunded if the appeal is granted. Until an appeal is granted the original decision remains in effect.
Community members, working directly with students in leadership or representative roles may be notified of violations or incidents involving a student within their care.
The University’s Accountability Committee
If selected to appear before the University’s Accountability Committee, the student will have the right to appear at the meeting, the right to invite one person, a friend or relative, and the right to knowledge of the evidence upon which the allegations are based. The chair of the University’s Accountability Committee will provide information to the student regarding the procedures to be followed in the meeting. The meeting will be closed to the public, except for one friend or relative for personal support. Formal rules of evidence will not apply nor will harmless procedural errors invalidate a decision. Failure to appear will result in a default decision. Final decisions of the University’s Accountability Committee will be by majority vote of the members present and voting. The VP of Student Life or designate, on behalf of the University’s Accountability Committee, will notify the student in writing of relevant decisions and the committee’s rationale for each.
The Accountability Committee includes seven members. Appointments to the committee are made as follows: two faculty members appointed by the Provost; two staff members appointed by the VP of Student Life; and three students, two appointed by the Trinity Western University Student Association Executive and one Resident Assistant appointed by the Director of Community Life upon approval from the VP of Student Life. Four members shall constitute a quorum. The VP of Student Life (or designate) serves as chair and deciding vote in the event of tie. Minutes of the committee’s meetings are kept confidential.
Emergency Temporary Suspension
In exceptional circumstances, the VP of Student Life or designate may issue an immediate, temporary suspension of a student prior to the completion of the Formal Accountability Process. This action will be taken when it is reasonable to conclude that serious misconduct has occurred and/or that a student's continued presence on campus presents an unreasonable risk to the safety of him/herself or others. Students receiving this suspension must leave the campus immediately. The Formal Accountability Process will proceed, and the Emergency Temporary Suspension will be replaced by the decision rendered at the conclusion of this process.
Possible Accountability Actions
- Miscellaneous Consequences - this may include a variety of actions such as an apology, community service, fine, loss of a services and payment for recovery of damaged property.
- Official Warning - an explanation of the relevant Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University is accompanied by a written warning that future violations would likely result in conduct accountability. A temporary record is kept.
- Conduct Accountability - a designated staff or faculty member will be made available to the student for regular mentorship and/or accountability meetings. Other required conditions may also be added. Failure to meet the conditions of a conduct accountability agreement would likely result in probation. Parents of students under 21 years of age may be notified. Conduct accountability may extend for one or two semesters. A temporary record is kept with the student’s transcript.
- Probation - the student remains enrolled with the understanding that further violations of Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University would likely result in suspension. Probation normally includes an impact upon university sourced financial aid and participation on university athletic teams, drama productions, music groups and student leadership positions. Parents of students under 21 years of age may be notified. Probation may extend for one or two semesters. A temporary record is kept with the student’s transcript.
- Suspension - an involuntary separation of the student from the University for a specified length of time. Suspension includes an impacts upon financial aid, and up to a full removal from participation on university athletic teams, drama productions, music groups, and student leadership positions. Parents of students under 21 years of age are notified and a temporary record is kept with the student’s transcript. For the duration of the suspension students are not allowed on campus without express permission, and are not permitted to attend class or TWU events, either on or off campus.
- Expulsion - a permanent separation of the student from the University with a permanent notation on the student’s transcript. Parents of students under 21 are notified. Students are not allowed on campus without express permission, and are not permitted to attend TWU events, either on or off campus without express permission.
The University reserves the right to impose probation, suspension or expulsion upon students for cases of plagiarism and academic dishonesty in addition to the typical academic penalties which may include being required to submit additional work, resubmit an assignment, accept a lower grade, accept a zero for the work, being barred from the final exam, receive a failure in the course and/or have a notation made in a student's permanent file.
Accountability Action Precedent
Although each situation is considered on an individual basis, repeated violations of the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University are taken into consideration when consequences for chosen behaviours are determined. As well, because the University values community, the welfare of the community will be balanced against the rights of the individual as accountability decisions are made.
The following are examples of potential consequences for first offences based upon TWU values and previous accountability decisions in order to assist students in having a realistic view of the seriousness of violating the Community Covenant and/or policies and guidelines of the University. It should be kept in mind, however, that each case is considered on an individual basis:
- Miscellaneous Consequences or Official Warning - deliberate conflict, pranks, misuse of telephone, computer equipment, or network/internet service, open residence violations, use of tobacco on campus and/or damage to property.
- Conduct Accountability or Probation - violations of the alcohol policy, accessing pornography, dishonesty, and/or behaviours that are destructive to community.
- Suspension (short term) - alcohol use or possession on campus, aggressive behaviour towards another student, pranks that cause property damage, theft, copying of keys, unauthorized use of keys, vandalism, sexual misconduct, and/or use of drugs.
- Suspension (long term) or Expulsion - recurring plagiarism, breaking and entering, providing alcohol to minors, possession of a weapon, harassment, assault, sexual assault, sale or distribution of drugs, arson, repeat offences and/or acts of greater severity.
Prior to appealing accountability decisions within the Student Accountability Process, students should ensure that one or more of the following apply:
- New information has become available that would have altered the original decision.
- The original decision is significantly disproportionate to the offense.
- A substantive violation in the process calls into question the fairness of the process and/or initial decision.