OSA Frequently Asked Questions
What does Office of the Student Advocate (OSA) do?
OSA works to facilitate open and honest communication between students and the University by providing free and confidential peer support advice and assistance to any student, student organization, or student group involved in a dispute with the University or any other entity within the University community. In addition, the OSA promotes students’ rights as well as work to change and challenge policies of the University on behalf of the students of UCSB.
Our caseworkers work with students on an one-on-one basis to work through their cases and ensure that they are in the best position to represent themselves. Our Community Organizers work in a proactive manner to carry out projects and policy changes from trends they see on the casework level.
What is the difference between Legal Resource Center and the Office of the Student Advocate?
The Legal Resource Center (LRC) offers legal counseling services on any issue or concern in which legal education would be helpful, unless it involves the university or another UCSB student. They offer legal advice, education, information and/or referrals , and can assist you in identifying and resolving your legal problems.OSA covers the flip side of that where the LRC does not have jurisdiction–disputes and conflicts involving the university or another UCSB student. While some cases do overlap, most situations will involve the assistance of one or the other.
What is the difference between OSA and Ombuds?
The Office of the Ombuds is a resource for students, faculty, parents or anyone else with a concern related to the University of California Santa Barbara. It is a confidential office where you can discuss any interpersonal issues, academic problems, workplace concerns, or any other campus-related queries. The office of the Student Advocate overlaps somewhat with the office of the Ombuds, but our office’s focus is for undergraduate students who have been accused of breaking the student code of conduct or housing policies by the University.
I just got a letter saying I need to meet with Judicial Affairs, what will happen in this meeting?
If this is your first letter from Judicial Affairs, it is most likely a preliminary meeting to get your side of the incident and to decide whether or not your case needs to go through a formal hearing. It is most important to be respectful and open about the situation so that they can get the full story. If you are nervous or want to discuss details of your case before the meeting, feel free to come to our office where a caseworker will be happy to help you out.
How should I prepare for a meeting with Judicial Affairs?
Please refer to our How to Prepare for a Meeting page.
Can one of the OSA caseworkers come with me to my meeting/hearing?
If you would feel more comfortable, an OSA caseworker can come with you. They will not be able to speak on your behalf but they can take you aside during the meeting if you are confused or have questions throughout the process. If you do want one of us to come with you, please come to the office and we will discuss your case.
Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to help you with issues involving Judicial Affairs; University procedure is very different from legal protocols outside of the University’s jurisdiction. You are allowed an attorney, but the role of the attorney or advisor is limited to assistance and support of you making your own case; they cannot speak on your behalf. If your particular situation also includes legal action outside of the University, utilizing the Legal Resource Center or private attorneys is your prerogative.
I lost my case, can I appeal? Can OSA help me with that?
If you lose your case or you are not satisfied with the result, the University has a policy of looking over appeals as long as they are written and submitted within ten working days of the date appearing on the notification of the sanction mailed to you. You can appeal for sanctions to be reduced or retracted as long as it satisfies the following conditions:
- Lack of substantial bases of fact to support the sanction (invoked or proposed)
- Incongruity of the sanction with the offense
- Unfairness in the proceedings
- Newly discovered important evidence not known at the time of the hearing.
(Pg. 9 Student Code of Conduct)
Any of our OSA caseworkers would be happy to help you draft your appeal letter and/or read over any drafts you have for us before you send it out.
Will services be denied to me if i’m accused of sexual assault?
The Office of the Student Advocate is a free resource for all undergraduate students who need help handling an accusation from the University of California Santa Barbara. We are responsible for assisting students in understanding the University’s legal processes, we are not here to judge. We will not deny services to any student based off of their accusation.
Why is Judicial Affairs meeting with me for an incident that did not involve UCSB (i.e. drinking or fighting or other criminal charges that occur in IV)?
Even if your incident did not occur on the UCSB campus, there are multiple ways in which UCSB would still get involved. This can happen if UCPD gets involved with your case, if the dispute is with another UCSB student, or if you are accused of violating any component of the Student Code of Conduct (which includes many of the same behavioral laws as the city has in regards to drinking or fighting etc.). On each charge letter you receive, it should include a citation for what section they accused you of violating. The Code of Conduct can be found here: Student Code of Conduct.
What is plagiarism?
The definition according to Judicial Affairs: “Plagiarism is academic theft. It is the use of another’s idea or words without proper attribution or credit. An author’s work is his/her property and should be respected by documentation.” For more information, feel free to look at the full information page on the Judicial Affairs’ Website or check out our Newsletter on the subject.
Will Academic Probation/Suspension show up on my transcript?
Yes, while you are on probation or suspension it will show up on your transcript, and it will show up on your unofficial transcript. After your suspension is over it will not appear on your Academic Transcript, but your records will be stored in Judicial Affairs records five years after you graduate, and any graduate program or job opportunity that you grant access to your transcript records will be able to see that in the past you had probation or suspension. Dismissals from the university are kept in Judicial Affairs records indefinitely.
The University hasn’t proven I am guilty, how can they carry on without definitive evidence?
The University’s Judicial Affairs makes their decision on each case with a “preponderance” of evidence. Unlike in the legal court system where one is only convicted if there is no doubt of their guilt, if there is 51% or more evidence against the student at the University level, they can be charged.
Will my parents be sent my charge letter/ find out what I am being charged of by the University?
Charge letters are emailed to students or mailed to their designated address on GOLD. The University is not allowed to notify your parents of any charges you incur, but if your parental email or home address is the only contact information listed in your GOLD account the University may mistakenly send them your charge. You may want to go make sure your GOLD information is updated and your own.
I am so stressed out about my case, what can I do to feel better?
Please feel free to talk to any of OSA staff about your worries or concerns, we are a confidential resource for all undergraduate students at UCSB. CAPS, UCSB’s Counseling and Psychological Services is also a great resource for students to talk to professionals in a safe environment. CAPS is located on campus in Building 599.
Is this office completely confidential?
Before our office can accept an individual’s case they must first sign a confidentiality waiver selecting what other organizations we can share information about their situation with (such as Judicial Affairs or Restorative Justice), our office can only discuss elements of each case within our office or the organizations signed off for by the student in question. The only way this confidentiality can be broken is if a court of law subpoenas any written information our office may have about a case which is relevant to a legal court case.
Where is the office located?
Our office is located in the back of AS Main in the Multicultural Center. If you enter the MCC from the door closest to Corwin Pavilion, you walk past the staircase, take a left turn, walk down the hall up to the Associated Students Main Office front desk.
Can I make an appointment?
Yes of course! You are always welcome to come by the office any weekday between the hours of 9AM and 4PM to discuss your case with the caseworker on duty. Otherwise, to make an appointment please email us as firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (805) 893-2577.