Advice about University disciplinary

13-Jun-18, 21:22
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for LeonBenjamin
posted about 2 years ago
Hi all

I've not posted anything here before, but I've found some of the advice on the other threads helpful, so I thought I'd reach out and try to pick peoples' brains, if that's ok...

So, I'm a PhD student and teaching assistant at a UK University. One of my students has found herself in a very tricky position; she's being accused of academic malpractise. Specifically, she is accused of getting a staff member to write parts of some of her assessments. Currently, she's going through an academic disciplinary.

What makes the situation more complex is that the student has disclosed to me that the staff member in question was abusing her. In particular, he had romantic feelings for her, and manipulated her into sending him bits of her work to "look at" as a means of getting close to her. She tells me that the staff member was emotionally abusive towards her, and used the veneer of providing academic support to try and draw her into a relationship with him. She is quite a vulnerable girl, and suffers from mental health issues and autism, and she was taken in by him and allowed him to amend parts of her work, as he apparently threatened harm against himself is she refused.

She's currently facing a University disciplinary panel about this matter; her School have been extremely dismissive of any argument she's made about her side of things (she has, I believe, only recently disclosed to the School what happened). She's concerned that she will be either expelled or made to retake the year (which she is financially unable to) as a result of this. Here's where I'm trying to figure out how best to support her - I've told her to disclose to all the relevant services, and get the support she needs. However, what I'm trying to get a sense of is how compelling her case would be for mitigating circumstances in a malpractise hearing.

Any thoughts?
14-Jun-18, 09:55
Avatar for chantedsnicker
posted about 2 years ago
I'm sure others will have much more helpful feedback than myself as I really don't know how these things work, but my first thought in answer to your question, was how much evidence has she got to support her argument?

Has she got anything in writing to show he was acting inappropriately?
I wonder if a letter form her doctor suggesting she was vulnerable may also help?

Is there anywhere she can go within the university to ask for advice and/or support?
14-Jun-18, 10:23
edited about 9 minutes later
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 2 years ago
Get in contact with your Students Union, they will have access to people who can take this forward and this is the kind of thing they exist for. Medical evidence also a plus. Personally I'd not post about it on a public forum (especially if a vulnerable young person is involved), anybody aware of the situation could identify you/the complainant from your post and username, and I wouldn't want to run the risk, however small, of prejudicing the investigation. Moreover, there's a massive, massive confidentiality issue here. If someone identifies the student involved from your post, she's put at risk. I would honestly delete this post as it really demonstrates that you're in out of your depth.

I think, as you say, you need to encourage her to get all of the relevant services involved. Ultimately, as a PhD student and tutor, you're neither paid nor trained to support a student in this way and I would step away from the situation as soon as is reasonably possible. Of course, it's you who she's disclosed to and some responsibility arises from that, but don't try and carry this forward on your own. Help her to access the appropriate support services and be prepared to give statements in any investigation, but don't try and do this alone as you'll probably fuck it up.
14-Jun-18, 13:30
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
I agree with the above two posters, but I'd also flag this conversation with the relevant people at your uni. Senior tutor, or head of admin, or head of year. Mostly likely will be aware of the case already and they need to be aware of her side as well. Be aware it make may no difference though. Departments often close ranks on this sort of thing, depending what they want the outcome to be.


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