Appendix E: Conflict of Interest in Student Faculty Relationships

Appendix E: Conflict of Interest in Student Faculty Relationships

1.0 When Does a Conflict of Interest Exist?

1.1 A conflict of interest may arise in situations in which there is a reasonable apprehension that a particular relationship between a Member and a student may confer upon one of them an unfair advantage or subject one of them to an unfair disadvantage. Such relationships include, but are not limited to:

a) close family relationships such as those between spouses or spousal equivalents, parents and children, siblings, in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren;

b) amorous relationships;

c) relationships between persons whose economic interests are closely interrelated.

1.2 A conflict of interest may arise in any situation where a Member is in a position to make decisions or take actions that affect the other person. Such situations include, but are not limited to:

a) the decision to admit a student to a program;

b) the provision of instruction;

c) the evaluation of a student;

d) the awarding of prizes, scholarships, financial assistance and other benefits;

e) the award of teaching or research assistantships or other remunerative employment, either within the University or using funds administered by the University.

1.3 Even in the absence of a conflict of interest as defined in these guidelines, Members and students should be aware that relationships between teachers and students involve trust and disparities in power, and may give rise to perceptions of bias, unfair advantage, or unfair treatment.

2.0 How are Conflicts to be Dealt With?

2.1 It is the responsibility of Chairs, Directors and Deans to ensure compliance with this policy.

2.2 It is incumbent upon Members to avoid situations in which a conflict of interest may arise and to deal promptly with any conflict of interest that does arise.

2.3 Where a conflict of interest, as defined above, arises, the Member must notify the relevant Chair, Director or Dean.

2.4 Other persons who apprehend a conflict of interest may also bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate Chair, Director or Dean.

2.5 Where a conflict of interest may arise, one or more of the following methods should be used to avoid or resolve such conflict.

a) The Member should normally decline or terminate a supervisory, teaching, evaluative or decision-making role in which a conflict of interest arises, unless the Chair, Director or Dean is of the view that this will create undue hardship to the student.

b) In situations where the conflicts of interest involves teaching, supervision or evaluation and where alternative courses or supervision exist that are reasonable and appropriate to the student’s program, the student should utilize those alternatives.

c) Where no reasonable and appropriate alternative exists, the Chair, Director or Dean shall ensure that a fair and unbiased mechanism of evaluation is put in place. This will normally require that another suitably qualified evaluator review all material submitted for evaluation, review the grades assigned, and report whether those grades are reasonable.

d) Where third parties are concerned about a perceived conflict of interest, the teacher, Chair, Director or Dean should consider informing them that the conflict has been dealt with pursuant to these principles. Such a step is for the protection of the student, Member and the University.

2.6 Any person concerned about a conflict of interest

a) may bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate Chair, Director or Dean; and

b) shall be notified of the outcome.

A failure to act in accordance with these principles may lead to disciplinary action by the University.

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