Ombuds Code of Conduct

CUSID Equity Policies

This is a working policy. The Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate Equity and Ombuds Policy (hereafter referred to as “the policy”) is designed to be a regulatory document for all actions and proceedings related to the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate’s Ombuds Team (hereafter referred to as the “Ombuds Team” or “Team”) and Equity. This policy is enforceable by members of the Ombuds Team as independent actors or as a collective body. This policy recognizes the Team as a body that exists to create, enforce and protect equitable practices and environments within the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (hereafter referred to as “CUSID”).
SS.1 Definitions
  1. i) Equity: the idea and practice of creating and protecting spaces that remain free from judgment, harassment, or discrimination on the basis of an individual(s)’s race, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, religion, class, accent, nationality and/or ability. Note, that this list of equity violations is not exhaustive and any actions that infringes upon the safety or perceived safety of an individual(s) can also be considered an equity issue.
  2. ii) Complaint: An equity complaint can be filed in response to any issue identified as an equity violation by the definition of equity set out in this policy. A complaint can be filed by an individual for themselves, on behalf of another individual or on behalf of a group.
SS.2 Aims
  1. i) to ensure that debate tournaments and adjacent events are made to be safe and equitable spaces for anyone who participates in them
  2. ii) to ensure that victims, complainants and/or survivors have access to mechanisms of complaint or recourse within Debate institutions 
iii) to provide clear guidelines for the actions of Ombudspeople, Equity Officers and CUSID Executives in matters related to equity.

SS.1 Roles

i) National Ombudsperson: The national ombudsperson is responsible for handling/overseeing any equity complaints:

  1. That are personally brought to their attention in person, direct message or through the national ombuds email
  2. That concern individuals, institutions or groups from more than one region
  3. Where a regional ombudsperson has been identified as having a conflict of interest.

ii) Regional Ombudspeople: 

  1. The regional ombuds positions are as follows:
         Central Ombudsperson
         West Ombudsperson
         East Ombudsperson
  2. Are responsible for handling/overseeing any equity complaints that are personally brought to their attention in person, direct message or through the national ombuds email or through the equity complaint form.
  3. Collecting tournament equity reports and statistics for their region.

SS.2 Succession

i)       Application Process

  1. Applications should be opened following the elections of the CUSID Executive. The new ombuds team should be selected before the beginning of the upcoming academic year. The consideration process should proceed as follows:
  2. Every institution will have the ability to provide feedback on the applicants within a given period.
  3. Any outgoing members of the ombudsteam should also submit feedback on applicants being considered.
  4. The CUSID President is expected to remove persons from consideration who have significant negative feedback against them, have multiple prior equity complaints, or have commited a singular equity violation that displays that they are unable to hold the position or actively defend complainants/prioritize survivors in complaint process.
  5. Remaining applicants in the pool will be selected by the CUSID President who will then propose the choice to the CUSID Exec for a vote of confidence.
  6. Whenever possible*, applicants that represent a racialized, gender, sexual, or religious minority should be prioritised in the selection process. 

*possible is defined as being within the limits set out previously in points a through d. Actively prioritizing applicants who are a member of any aforementioned marginalised community to the detriment of the safety, efficacy, or transparency of CUSID Equity or the CUSID community writ large is against the equity policy as a whole.

ii)       Term

The term of all members of the Ombuds Team will extend for approximately one year. Subject to the release of applications, and selection of Ombuds Team.

iii)     Special Circumstances

  1. In the event that no one has applied to any of the ombuds positions for the following year the position will remain with the person that currently holds it.
  2. In the event where a member of the Team becomes a member of the CUSID Executive during their term, applications for their position for the proceeding term must open immediately to find a replacement in a timely manner

SS.3 Midterm Resignation or Removal

i)       Resignation

Members of the team are entitled to resign at any point throughout their term. It is recommended that documentation of reasons for resignation be noted to further embed best practices and institutional knowledge.

In cases of resignation, the old ombudsperson may be asked to stay on until their position is filled.

ii) Removal

The act of removing any ombuds person from their position is deeply regrettable and should be used in cases where other mechanisms of mediation and correction do not work or when the reasons for removal call into question the ability of the ombudsperson to fulfill any of the responsibilities of their position.

Removal proceedings may be put into effect in the following circumstances:

  • Multiple equity complaints against the Ombudsperson
  • Lack of responsiveness or unwillingness to handle equity complaints reported to them
  • Violation of the policy or best practices that calls into question understanding of equity or mandate to create safer equitable spaces
  • Multiple and/or serious mishandling(s) of a complaint(s)
  1. Formal mechanisms of recourse should be taken before removal, including but not limited to another member of the team or the CUSID President explaining the ways that capacity is being called into question.
  2. Mediation that exists to provide recourse for the complainant as well as evaluate the ability of the Ombudsperson to take responsibility for their actions proceed in their capacity as ombudsperson.
  3. Following these measures, the remaining members of the Ombuds team should provide a wholesome summary of the proceedings to the CUSID Executive. This summary should provide a recommendation for removal or non-removal though if it does not include one, it would be advised that the CUSID Executive take the action of removal into strong consideration.
  4. Upon receiving the summary of proceedings the President/Executive should vote to remove or keep the Ombudsperson in their position.
  5. In the event where multiple proceedings to remove an Ombudsperson have occurred, the team is encouraged to lean towards recommendations for removal to preserve the accessibility and legitimacy of the team and policy.

*For the purposes of this section, the term “multiple” is explicitly defined as more than one.

iii)     Process for New Application

  1. In the case of resignation/removal of a Regional ombudsperson, applications will be opened immediately to fill the position in a timely manner.
  2. In the case of resignation/removal of the National Ombudsperson, an interim National Ombudsperson will be chosen from the regional representatives. The interim National Ombudsperson requires consensus from the remaining Ombuds team and a vote of confidence from the CUSID Executive.
  3. To fill the vacated position of the regional representative, proceed with measures outlined above in Section 2: SS.3 IIIA.

SS.1 Mechanisms for Recourse

i)       Oral

Complaints can be given to any member of the Ombuds team orally. The ombudsperson receiving the complaint should either keep a recording or notes from the conversation. 

ii)       Equity Form

An online equity complaint form should be made available to all members of the CUSID community. 

iii)     Written Submission

Any individual(s) that want to submit an equity complaint or case can also do so by writing a detailed description of their complaint and submitting it to an ombudsperson or their email

iv)     Anonymity

All forms of complaints can be submitted and/or recorded as anonymous at the complainant’s request. 

SS.2 Proceedings Related to Complaints

Complaint proceedings should generally follow a stepwise process in terms of escalation of outcomes and consequences.

i)       Evaluation of original complaint

The Ombudsperson that receives a complaint should be evaluate the complaint for indications of anonymity (does the complainant want to remain anonymous?), intent (does the complainant want the perpetrator to be told that their actions/words were wrong/hurtful? Do they want an apology? Do they want the to ensure that the perpetrator can’t make anyone else feel unsafe?) and reasonable outcomes (what does the best resolution of the situation look like?).

ii)       Recourse

  1. Once the original complaint has been evaluated, the Ombudsperson is responsible for acting on it in a reasonable time. First steps should be either education or mediation or a combination of both.
  2. Depending on the response of the perpetrator and the severity of the original complaint the Ombudsperson is responsible for evaluating whether further recourse is necessary
  3. Consequences

A number of consequences are available as the resolution to a complaint depending on the severity of the original complaint and the response of the perpetrator in education and mediation stages

  1. Anti-oppression or educational programming
  2. Disqualification from active tournament
  3. Removal of perpetrator from environments/positions that would allow them to    exert harm
  4. Temporary suspension from CUSID events
  5. Banning from CUSID Events
  6. In cases where the complainant feels unsafe or has been criminally harmed authorities may be contacted

SS.3 Special Circumstances

i)       Complaints against a member of the Ombuds Team

In the event where an individual within CUSID has a complaint against a member of the Ombuds Team they are encouraged to report to another regional representative or the National Ombudsperson.

  1. The representative will then present the complaint to the rest of the Ombuds Team – excluding the individual with an outstanding complaint – and proceed with the normal complaint process.
  2. While addressing the complaint, the team should evaluate whether the complaint falls under the criteria set out in Section 2: SS.3 II for removal.
  3. In the event that the complaint is against the entirety of the team, the complaint should be addressed directly to the CUSID president. The Executive will then follow the processes in the policy to address the complaint address if removal proceedings need to be put into effect.

ii)       Confidentiality

The Team recognizes and prioritizes confidentiality in handling equity complaints, particularly in preferring a survivor/complainant centred approach. In cases where individuals or members of the CUSID community are put in immediate danger, confidentiality may be forgone to ensure an individual or collective’s safety.

iii)     Sexual Violence

In cases where one or more people approach an Ombudsperson with a disclosure or complaint related to sexual violence they are expected to extend a higher duty of care to the complainant in regards to confidentiality and support.

  1. Support: please be aware of general and specific support services for sexual violence survivors. In the event that someone discloses to you, present as many options for next steps without expressing personal preference for which option they choose. Next steps can include: seeking medical attention (STI Testing, pregnancy tests, and sexual violence kits are available at many hospitals, service and/or health centers), seeking a support professional or counsellor, speaking to a friend or loved one
  2. Reporting: please be aware of general and reporting services for sexual violence survivors. Again, present as many options for next steps without expressing personal preference for which option they choose. Next steps for reporting can include but are not limited to: reporting to their institution’s administration, reporting to the perpetrator’s administration, reporting to the police, application for restraining order.
  3. CUSID Proceedings: The ombudsperson who has received a complaint in regards to sexual violence should prioritize the needs and wishes of the survivor in regards to how they wish to proceed in regards to personal support and reporting. However, in fulfilling the mandate to keep the spaces equitable and safe, the ombudsperson is obliged to speak to the perpetrator about the way they occupy spaces and enact violence. Depending on the wishes of the survivor’s wishes regarding anonymity these follow up conversations will be highly specific or vague. However, the ombudsperson that has this conversation should be aware of next steps to take including but not limited to the following:
  • Recommendation to ban perpetrator from further CUSID events
  • Recommendation to suspend perpetrator from CUSID events
  • Anti-oppression and/or sexual violence training

SS.1 Briefings

Tournament briefings should include:

  • A working definition of equity and the purpose of equity in debate
  • A thorough outline of the mechanisms to report or file a complaint
  • A reminder to chairs to always include pronoun introductions in their opening remarks
  • A reminder to judges to be wary of accent, gender, tone and racial bias in weighing persuasiveness and giving speaker scores

SS.2 Adjudication and Rounds

i) For complaints that concern the argumentation, points or examples used in a round, Tournament Equity Officers should follow up with both the individual perpetrator as well as a member of the adjudication team. This will ensure that members of the adj core can deliver general remarks to the tournament about best practices moving forward.

ii) For complaints that concern the tournament practices, motions or general adjudication proceedings. Equity officers should speak to the chief adjudicator to remedy the problem for proceeding rounds.

SS.3 Complaints

i) All complaints should be submitted to tournament equity officers except in cases where a conflict of interest is detected, in which case a complaint should be submitted to the corresponding regional Ombudsperson.

ii) Tournament equity officers are responsible for following up on individual equity complaints immediately. 

iii) All complaints from a tournament should be noted by the Tournament Equity Officers and submitted as reports to Regional Equity Officers.

SS.4 Socials

i) Debate socials are defined as: All official tournament socials and any Pres, posts and related social functions where two or more debaters are present 

ii) Violations of the policy that occur in the above settings fall within the parameters of the policy and those involved can access mechanisms or complaint and/or recourse

iii) In the case where the complainant or perpetrator is not a member of CUSID the individual that is a member of the CUSID community will still have access to mechanisms of complaint or recourse, conversely they will also be subject to the mechanisms of complaint and/or recourse

  1. In the case where the complainant is the sole member of CUSID, tournament equity officers hold a higher standard of care to this individual and are encouraged to prioritize their safety and continued ability to participate in the tournament and CUSID writ large
    – If the perpetrator has been invited to the social by a third party member of CUSID, you may ask the third party to be involved in follow up mechanisms of resource, namely preserving the safety of the complainant or extending an apology
  2. In the case where the perpetrator is the sole member of CUSID, Tournament Equity Officers are expected to follow all the complaint procedures and offer mechanisms for complaint/recourse to the complainant outside of CUSID

SS.5 Tournament Organization

i) Any individual, internal or external to the hosting institution, involved in the organization of the tournament (i.e Tournament Directors, Organizing Committee members, Chief Adjudicators, Tabspersons, etc.) are to be considered representatives of the host institution.

  1. As such, actions by any such individuals fall under the same purview of CUSID and tournament equity, and will be held to the same standards. Host institutions are charged with the responsibility of maintaining this standard, with regards to all internal and external organizers, within the reasonable limits of their abilities.

SS.1 Equity/ Ombudsperson

i)       Every debate society that has CUSID membership should have an independent position/team dedicated to fulfilling the role and mandate of this policy and club equity policies internally

  1. In the event where club size or capacity makes this impossible. Institutions should integrate the management of equity complaints into an existing executive role.
  2. The equity representative should not be the same as the president in order to allow for equity to be seperate from positions of primary leadership to ensure transparency and efficacy.

ii)       This person(s) should be well versed in both the CUSID Equity and Ombuds Policy as well as independent club policies, and institution policies

iii)     This person(s) should be the primary contact of the Ombuds Team/ Regional Representatives in matters relating to reporting, and/or submitting tournament and club equity reports

SS.2 Policy and Best Practices

i)       The policy recommends having an equity person that does not hold another substantial executive position in the society. This recommendation will vary in importance depending on size and composition of a society’s executive. But the Society Equity Representative(s) should not be the same person as the President, Vice President of Finance or any other executive whose position and prominence might be a reasonable barrier to reporting a complaint

ii)       The policy recommends that the Society Equity Representative(s) serve as one or more of the Equity Officers for tournaments hosted by the institution in question. In the event where this is impossible due to time or capacity constraints, the Society Equity Representative(s) is responsible for ensuring that the Tournament Equity Officer(s) is aware of the policy and the responsibilities and expectations outlined under Section 4 of the policy.

SS.1 Proposal

i) Any amendments to the policy must be proposed two weeks ahead of any CUSID title tournament .

ii) The amendment proposal must include: the wording of the added section or subsection, where in the policy the amendment would be found, brief description of why you are proposing the amendment. 

SS.2 Ratification and Voting

i) Once a proposal has been tabled it will be voted on via cusid referendum. Every institution is required to cast a vote either through an institutional representative or through a proxy vote.

ii) Amendments can be revised in person prior to voting.

  1. Institutions that are not present can give their proxy vote to another institutional representative, or another individual member of cusid

iii) Proxies can be direct or indirect

  1. Direct proxies very clearly outline the intended institutional vote based on the original amendment or based on possible changes to the policy. 
  2. Indirect proxies leave final vote to the discretion of the proxy holder

iv) Amendments require a three quarter majority to pass


In this Bylaw,
Ombudsperson shall refer to either of the regional representatives or the national Ombudsperson unless otherwise specified.

CUSID Executive shall refer to a quorum of CUSID Executive members as dictated in that organization’s enacting Bylaw.


There shall be appointed, as parties independent to the CUSID executive, a National Ombudsperson and Three Regional Ombudspersons (West, Central, East) to exercise the powers and perform the duties prescribed by this Bylaw.


The National Ombudsperson shall oversee the activities and functions of the Regional representatives and shall be charged with responsibility for assembling the annual report.


The Ombudspersons shall be appointed prior to the beginning of the fall academic semester by a simple majority vote of the CUSID Executive.


The Ombudspersons shall hold office for a term of one year and may be reappointed for a further term or terms, but are removable at any time for cause by a simple majority vote of the CUSID executive.


In the event of the death or resignation of the Ombudsperson or if the Ombudsperson is unable or neglects to perform the functions of his or her office, the CUSID executive may appoint a temporary Ombudsperson, who shall, while in such office, have the powers and duties and perform the functions of the Ombudsperson.


The Ombudspersons shall report annually upon the affairs of the Ombudsperson’s office to the CUSID Executive.


Before commencing the duties of his or her office, the Ombudsperson shall agree that he or she will faithfully and impartially exercise the functions of his or her office and that he or she will not disclose any information received by him or her as Ombudsperson.


The Ombudsperson may disclose in any report made by him or her under this Bylaw such matters as in the Ombudsperson’s opinion ought to be disclosed in order to establish grounds for his or her conclusions and recommendations.


The function of the Ombudsperson is to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of the CUSID executive or any of the bodies which it sanctions or the behaviour of any individual considered by the CUSID Code of Conduct that affect any person or body of persons in his, her or its personal capacity within the CUSID community.


The Ombudsperson may make any such investigation on a complaint made to him or her by any person affected or by any member of the CUSID executive or any of the bodies which it sanctions to whom a complaint is made by any person affected (reactive), or of the Ombudsperson’s own motion (proactive).


The CUSID Executive may make general rules for the guidance of the Ombudsperson in the exercise of his or her functions under this Bylaw.


Subject to this Bylaw and any rules made under this section, the Ombudspersons may determine his or her procedures.

Every complaint to the Ombudsperson shall be made in writing.


If, in the course of the investigation of any complaint within his or her jurisdiction, it appears to the Ombudsperson,

    • (a) that under the law or existing administrative practice there is an adequate remedy for the complainant, whether or not the complainant has availed himself, herself or itself of it; or

(b) that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, any further investigation is unnecessary,

the Ombudsperson may in his or her discretion refuse to investigate the matter further.


Without limiting the generality of the powers conferred on the Ombudsperson by this Bylaw, the Ombudsperson may in his or her discretion decide not to investigate, or, as the case may require, not to further investigate, any complaint if it relates to any decision, recommendation, act or omission of which the complainant has had knowledge for more than twelve months before the complaint is received by the Ombudsperson, or, if in his or her opinion,

    • (a) the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial;

(b) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith;

(c) the complainant has not a sufficient personal interest in the subject-matter of the complaint.


In any case where the Ombudsperson decides not to investigate or further investigate a complaint, the Ombudsperson shall inform the complainant of that decision, and may if he or she thinks fit state the reasons therefore.


Before investigating any matter, the Ombudsperson shall inform the head of the organization and/or tournament affected of his or her intention to make the investigation.


Every investigation by the Ombudsperson under this Bylaw shall be conducted in private.


The Ombudsperson may hear or obtain information from such persons as he or she thinks fit, and may make such inquiries as he or she thinks fit and it is not necessary for the Ombudsperson to hold any hearing and no person is entitled as of right to be heard by the Ombudsperson, but, if at any time during the course of an investigation, it appears to the Ombudsperson that there may be sufficient grounds for him or her to make any report or recommendation that may adversely affect any organization or person, the Ombudsperson shall give to that organization or person an opportunity to make representations respecting the adverse report or recommendation.


This section applies in every case where, after making an investigation under this Bylaw, the Ombudsperson is of opinion that the behaviour, decision, recommendation, act or omission which was the subject-matter of the investigation,

        • (a) that the matter should be referred to the appropriate authority for further consideration;

      (b) that the omission should be rectified;

      (c) that the decision or recommendation should be canceled or varied;

      (d) that any practice on which the decision, recommendation, act or omission was based should be altered;

      (e) that reasons should have been given for the decision or recommendation; or

      (f) that any other steps should be taken,

(a) appears to have been contrary to an established code of conduct;

(b) was unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory, or was in accordance with a rule of law or a provision of any Bylaw, Act or a practice that is or may be unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory;

(c) was based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact; or

(d) was wrong.


This section also applies in any case where the Ombudsperson is of opinion that in the behaviour, making of the decision or recommendation, or in the doing or omission of the act, a discretionary power has been exercised for an improper purpose or on irrelevant grounds or on the taking into account of irrelevant considerations, or that, in the case of a decision made in the exercise of any discretionary power, reasons should have been given for the decision.


If in any case to which this section applies the Ombudsperson is of opinion,

the Ombudsperson shall report his or her opinion, and the reasons therefore, to the CUSID Executive, and may make such recommendations as he or she thinks fit and the Ombudsperson may request the CUSID Executive to notify him or her, within a specified time, of the steps, if any, that it proposes to take to give effect to his or her recommendations.


If within a reasonable time after the report is made no action is taken which seems to the Ombudsperson to be adequate and appropriate, the Ombudsperson, in his or her discretion, after considering the comments, if any, made by or on behalf of any governmental organization affected, may issue a report and recommendations to be presented before the general assembly of the CUSID membership, within the parameters of maintaining strict confidences.


In no case will the Ombudsperson make recommendations directly to the complainant, the complainee or any involved party apart from the CUSID Executive, except on the express advice of the CUSID Executive.


Where, on any investigation following a complaint, the Ombudsperson makes a recommendation, and no action which seems to the Ombudsperson to be adequate and appropriate is taken thereon within a reasonable time, the Ombudsperson shall inform the complainant of his or her recommendation, and may make such comments on the matter as he or she thinks fit.


The Ombudsperson shall in any case inform the complainant, in such manner and at such time as he or she thinks proper, of the result of the investigation.


Penalties and sanctions shall lie at the sole discretion of the CUSID Executive.


The provisions of this Bylaw are in addition to the provisions of any other Bylaw or rule of law under which any remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided for any person, or any procedure is provided for the inquiry into or investigation of any matter, and nothing in this Bylaw limits or affects any such remedy or right of appeal or objection or procedure.


1. The Ombudsperson shall, no later than three months after the end of the Ombudsperson’s reporting period, table his or her Annual report, with the CUSID Executive.

2. The Ombudsperson shall not, except where permitted by the Bylaw in carrying out functions thereunder, disclose to any third party any information received by the Ombudsperson or his or her staff while carrying out any of the functions of the Ombudsperson under the Bylaw.

3. Where at any time during the course of an investigation it appears to the Ombudsperson that there may be sufficient grounds for formulating opinions or of making any recommendations, which has the effect of altering, opposing or causing the original action, decision, recommendation, act or omission to be changed in any way, the Ombudsperson shall give the relevant organization and any person who is identified or is capable of being identified as having made or committed or caused to be made or committed, as the case may be, the action, decision, recommendation, act or omission, an opportunity to make representations respecting the adverse report or recommendations.

4. In all cases where the Ombudsperson has concluded that a response by the CUSID Executive to a report made by the Ombudsperson is neither adequate nor appropriate, and where the Ombudsperson wishes ultimately, if the matter cannot be resolved, to seek support for his or her recommendation before the CUSID general membership, the report shall be referred to the CUSID President before it is referred to the CUSID general membership.