What can stop a university from doing whatever they want and screwing students over in terms of accusing them of cheating, plagiarism, or a misunderstanding of professor authorization of essay re-submission in a second class, trying to take a student's degree or credit away after the course is completed/graduated with little evidence and no proof of circumstantial evidence that truly happened at the time of the incident? Since they are private and go by their own rules and apparently there is no standard policy for how all universities are supposed to deal with issues.

This is in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.


  • The person who would need the lawyer would probably be the student and not you. You would probably not have standing to intervene. Any lawyer who handles civil matters could potentially have the right knowledge base. In the U.S., I would go to the American Association of University Professors for a referral. I presume that something similar exists in Canda.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 22, 2016 at 17:51
  • @JPhills: to be clear; who is the (real or hypothetical) impacted person here: a student or a faculty member? Dec 22, 2016 at 18:01
  • I am the student....and I would say @BlueDogRanch that both are affected. Student for accusations of misconduct and the prof for accusations of negligence and damage towards the student's well being and livlihood in terms of the timeline of graduating and finding a job and messing it all up for the student.
    – J Phills
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:11
  • Ideally, all parties should have legal and ethical protections. Dec 22, 2016 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


What stops a university form doing anything it wants is the contract you entered with the university when you enrolled. (I'm writing from the perspective of a student, not faculty). You and they are bound by the contract, and part of that contract will be a clear outline of academic processes such as ethics, grading, class requirements and test taking, as well as penalties for cheating and plagiarism. That contract will be outlined in your student handbook.

That handbook and contract will also clearly outline (or should) the grievance process and remediation for both students and faculty. Since you feel that the university is not being fair, you need to start with investigating that formal grievance process and look into gathering your materials and filing a complaint. The college will have an office that handles such grievances; you need to find it and talk to them.

If they are a private college, yes, they do have their "own rules," but some aspects of federal, provincial and local civil and criminal law will still apply. Be aware that the school contract may bind you to arbitration - which means you have to deal with the college on all matters - and you may not be able to go to a public court on a civil matter.

A lawyer will be able to tell if you are bound by arbitration and if so, that's the end of the road. If not, a lawyer will tell you if you have a criminal or civil case. In any event, the grievance process at the U will more than likely be your first step.

If by chance criminal misconduct is found during the grievance process, then a federal, provincial or local prosecutor would be involved; we would assume the university would be forthcoming if that need appeared.

  • Thank you so much that was really helpful. If you would know, what might happen to the university if they were found guilty of something? Pay a fine to the student or grant to the student whatever they were arguing for?
    – J Phills
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:15
  • Everything will be in the U contract as to what actions you can take against the U and faculty, and what happens is impossible to say; if you are bound by arbitration, it's up to the U. In public court and if the U was found to be criminally liable or negligent, then any penalty would have to follow current laws. Civil court is another matter; that depends on the jury and judge and your lawyer, and if the U settled before court. But the going through the grievance process at the U is the first step. Dec 22, 2016 at 21:15

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