Rights + Responsibilities

The University of Toronto respects and upholds all students’ rights but also entrusts you with certain responsibilities and expects you to be familiar with, and follow, the policies developed to protect everyone’s safety, security and integrity. This page provides a brief overview of your rights and responsibilities. In all cases, you should consult the relevant policy itself for the most complete and accurate explanation.

Codes of Conduct: University Expectations

Code of Student Conduct

U of T has a unique set of rules and procedures that apply specifically to life on campus called the Code of Student Conduct.
The purpose of the Code is to help the university to deal fairly and efficiently with any breech in the safety or freedom of others during activities or programs at U of T, or anyone living in campus housing.
The code addresses:

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Endangering the health and safety of others
  • Damage to others’ property
  • Criminal harassment (commonly known as “stalking,” defined in detail in the Code)
  • Obstructing the activities of others
  • Various aspects of the use of University facilities and services

Complaints are handled through investigations and hearings within your college or faculty, and outcomes could range from an informal negotiated restitution to formal reprimand to denial of access to activities or services. In the most serious cases – and these are quite rare – the sanction can be expulsion from the University.

Library Conduct

To ensure that all members of the university community can continue to access the library collection and share library space, the university has developed a set of Library Conduct Regulations for staff, faculty and students.
Some of the rules in the Regulations include the prohibition of:

  • Mutilating library materials by marking, underlining, removing pages or portions of pages, removing binding or staples, removing security devices, tampering electronically, or in any other way damaging or defacing library materials
  • Deliberately misfiling materials to prevent other from using them
  • Eating and drinking in the library

Your library privileges can be taken away if you violate these rules and you could face a charge under the Code of Student Conduct, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the Library Conduct Regulations before beginning your research activities.

Using Technology Appropriately

U of T is equipped with technology that can help make your studies easier and more efficient. As long as you follow the guidelines developed by your department and outlined in the Guidelines of the Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology, you will be allowed to continue enjoying the privilege of using campus computer labs and a university-issued email account. The Guidelines prohibit harassment as well as the propagation of hate literature.

The source of such material is easily traced and your privileges will be revoked if you violate the guidelines. Do not let others use your email and computer access account; you are responsible for whatever material is distributed and whatever activity is conducted through your account.

Copyright in Courses

The unauthorized use of any form of device to audiotape, photograph, video-record or otherwise reproduce lectures, course notes or teaching materials provided by instructors is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and is prohibited. You must obtain prior written consent to such recording. In the case of private use by students with disabilities, the instructor’s consent must not be unreasonably withheld. Read the Guidelines of the Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology.

Alcohol Use

If you are of legal drinking age (19 years old), it is up to you to drink responsibly. Under the Campus Alcohol Policy, the university will intervene if you use alcohol illegally, or engage while drinking in conduct that endangers you or others, damages university property, disrupts university activities or interferes with the rights of others.

Possession of Firearms and Ammunition

No one except on-duty police officers and members of the Armed Forces is allowed to carry a firearm or ammunition on campus without the written permission of the president of U of T or his designate. Unauthorized possession of a firearm or ammunition is an offence under the Code of Student Conduct.

Expressing Yourself: Freedom of Speech, Disruption, Discrimination and Harassment

We take freedom of speech seriously at U of T and believe that it is essential for the pursuit of truth, the advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge. You can read about our free speech philosophy in the university’s Statement on Freedom of Speech. The right to free speech includes:

  • the right to examine, question, investigate, speculate and comment on any issue
  • the right to criticize the University
  • the right to form groups and the right of such groups to express themselves

Limits are placed only when the rights and safety of others are jeopardized. Such offences on campus include:

  • Disrupting activities
  • Preventing others from having freedom of speech
  • Discriminating against others based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, marital status, family status, receipt of public assistance or record of offence
  • Harassing others, such as sending unwanted electronic communications that are persistent, repeated, abusive, obscene or otherwise unwelcome; or sexually harassing men or women in the form of abuse of power (a sexual advance or solicitation used for academic or employment gain) or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment by focusing verbally, physically or in written form on someone’s sex or sexual orientation

These limitations are spelled out in the Code of Student Conduct, Statement on Human Rights, and Sexual Harassment Policy.
You should also review the university’s guidelines on poster and flyer distribution before posting any material on campus.

Making the Grade: Academic Rights and Responsibilities

Your rights and responsibilities also include academic rules to ensure that the classroom experience is fair for you and your peers.

Understanding and Avoiding Cheating and Plagiarism

U of T prohibits cheating and plagiarism, and enforces severe penalties against students who break the rules outlined in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, which include:

  • Using unauthorized aids on an exam or test
  • Looking at someone else’s answers during an exam or test
  • Falsifying documents or grades
  • Making up sources or facts for an essay or report
  • Submitting the same work in more than one course (without permission)
  • Submitting someone else’s work as your own

Fair Grading

We do our best to ensure that grading practices are uniform across all courses at U of T. That means that your instructors are expected to meet some minimum requirements when developing the grading scheme for a course and in evaluating your work.

You can read more about these requirements in the Grading Practices Policy, which applies to all programs and sets undergraduate and graduate grading rules for the university, as well as the grading procedures for your faculty.

You are allowed to appeal a grade based on your instructor’s failure to meet these requirements, but we request that you talk to your instructor before filing a formal appeal — most complaints can easily be handled directly between students and their instructors.

Your Grades (20-pg PDF) provides undergraduate and graduate students with more information on re-writes, grade re-checks, extensions, exemptions, petitions and appeals.

Accessing Your Official Record

You can request to see your official record through your college or faculty registrar at any time. Your record contains your registration and enrolment information, grades, basis of admission to your program, results of any petitions, medical information related to your academic progress and non-confidential letters of reference submitted on your behalf. The University protects your privacy in accordance with the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and will not release information from your record to persons outside the University without your consent.

You can find out more about accessing your records in the Guidelines on Access to Official Student Academic Records.

Access to Services and Facilities

U of T’s services and facilities are available to every student and are rarely limited to a specific group. The only exception to this open-access policy is when a division restricts the use of services to students registered in a particular college, department or faculty.

If you don’t feel that you are being offered fair or equitable use of a facility or service, you have the right to submit a complaint to the head of that unit and to receive a timely response.

Updating Your Information and Staying in Touch

We may need to send you important notices throughout the academic year, so it is your responsibility to make sure that we have your most up-to-date contact information.
To ensure that we can reach you, please:

  • Establish a university-issued email account (an address that ends with @utoronto.ca)
  • Maintain updated contact information (including your utoronto email address) in ROSI
  • Retrieving and reading all emails sent to you from U of T on a consistent and timely basis

You can also change your name and/or gender on your academic record, class lists and ROSI by writing a request letter addressed to your college registrar or the registrar of the School of Graduate Studies. It’s up to you whether you fully disclose why you are making this change, but be sure to provide your student ID number and deliver the letter of request to your registrar’s office in person.

Accommodating Religious Observances

U of T prides itself on its diversity and aims to accommodate the needs of students who observe religious holy days other than those already scheduled. It is your responsibility to let your instructor know well in advance of any religious observances or anticipated absences.

For more information, feel free to read about the university’s expectations concerning the accommodation of religious observances and the Policy on Scheduling of Classes and Examinations and Other Accommodations for Religious Observances.

Your Right to Make a Difference

We believe that learning happens outside as well as inside the classroom. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in university decision-making, which is a great way to gain practical leadership experience, exercise your right to be heard and influence the development of university policies and priorities.

If you are a full- or part-time student, you are welcome to run for positions on boards and committees in your department, college or faculty, as well as on the highest decision-making body, the Governing Council. You can find out more about U of T’s student government, unions and councils by reading Ulife.

Getting Help: Petitions, Mediation, Complaints and Advice

If you are having academic, extracurricular, personal or legal problems, there are several ways for you to seek help on campus. U of T has policies and procedures to address just about any issue you might face.

Academic Issues

You are allowed to submit a petition if you require special consideration on an academic matter, such as a missed exam, incomplete course work or failing to meet administrative regulations or degree requirements. To be successful, your petition must be accompanied by documentation, such as a medical note.

Petitions can be submitted through your college registrar if you are an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts and Science, your faculty registrar if you are in a professional faculty or your department if you are a graduate student.

You may also request an appeal if there are grounds for having a decision reviewed, such as a denied petition or you feel that an exam should be re-checked. Talk to your college or faculty registrar for information on how to request an appeal.

Your Grades (20-page PDF) provides undergraduate and graduate students with more information on re-writes, grade re-checks, extensions, exemptions, petitions and appeals.

Non-Academic Issues

Equity offices assist students with concerns and challenges related to their experiences at the University. Staff from the equity offices engage in outreach and education across all campuses and provide guidance on specific issues as they arise. Officers assist in responding to concerns, resolving conflict and managing complaints.

If you have a complaint about a campus organization, such as a student society, always speak to the organization first about your issues. If the group doesn’t adequately address your concerns, feel free to contact the Office of Student Life to request they investigate charges that an organization has acted in a manner that is inconsistent with its constitution, university policies or the law. On the St. George campus, you can contact Campus Organization Services in the Office of Student Life at 416-946-7755 or email groups.officer@utoronto.ca.

For advice and information on policies and guidelines relating to student services, student groups and societies or campus life, contact the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students. You can also contact the Office of the Governing Council for information on university policies.

Fairness to Students

The University of Toronto is committed to fairness in its dealings with its individual members and to ensuring that their rights are protected. In support of this commitment, the Office of the University Ombudsperson was established in 1975.

The University Ombudsperson operates independently of the administration, being accountable only to the Governing Council, and has unrestricted access to all University authorities.

In considering complaints, the Ombudsperson acts in an impartial fashion, acting neither as an advocate for the individual members of the University nor as a defender of the University, but rather assisting in achieving procedural fairness and reasonable outcomes. All matters are held in confidence unless the individual involved approves otherwise.

The services of the Ombudsperson are available to individual students on any campus of the University. For additional information about the role of the Office, and how to contact the Ombudsperson, see www.utoronto.ca/ombudsperson

Independent Advice

You can find affordable legal counsel at Downtown Legal Services (DLS), an on-campus legal aid clinic staffed by students in the Faculty of Law who are professionally supervised. DLS provides legal assistance for summary offence criminal matters, small claims court cases, academic appeals and offences, landlord–tenant disputes, employment matters and other administrative issues, as well as referrals for other legal matters. There is a $10 administrative fee, but DLS services are free.