Academic Advocacy Office
We know that academic rights are a significant concern for our members. We completed an academic advocacy investigation at the University of Toronto. We surveyed student-run academic advocacy offices at various universities, including Concordia University, Ryerson University, University of British Columbia and York University to see how we could improve our own academic advocacy services. The advocacy offices surveyed provide extensive amounts of services relating to academic appeals and petitions, as well as assistance with academic offences and other disciplinary matters. Some also provided services for non-academic matters.
The investigation also included research on the resources available at the University. These include:
1. The Academic Success Center at UofT, which promotes academic success through lectures, workshops and consultation;
2. Downtown Legal Services, which offers various services regarding legal representation and academic offences; and
3. The faculty and registrar’s offices.
Despite the existence of these services, we receive numerous emails, phone calls and walk-ins from students who seek assistance regarding academic advocacy. There continues to be a gap between services available and students’ needs. Students are either unaware of existing services or have not found adequate assistance at existing help centers. We have identified that there is a need for a space that offers non-judgmental, unintimidating students assistance in matters of academic petitions and appeals.
In order to close this gap, we are planning to open a new Academic Advocacy Office will serve as a referral service to the other services that assist students on campus, as well as providing assistance where possible. Although we currently provide individual support for students who need assistance, we recognize that more students will benefit with an academic advocacy office that connects them to the right services, holds workshops and provides support and resources regarding academic offences, appeals and other non-academic concerns, like your tenant rights, conflict resolution tips and financial aid.
The development of the Academic Advocacy Office has been postponed until the Student Commons space is available to students. The UTSU welcomes any suggestions by members on what services would be useful to offer at an academic advocacy office.