Appeal Dismissed

FILE: Report #314
DATE: March 9, 2007
PARTIES: The Student Appellant v. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Hearing Date(s): February 20, 2007

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Senior Chair
Professor Jan Angus
Mr. Kristofer Coward
Professor William Gough
Ms Maureen Somerville

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Dr. Anthony Gray

In Attendance:
the Student Appellant

For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Ms Sari Springer (Counsel)
Ms Elaine Ishibashi, Associate Registrar
Professor Suzanne Stevenson, Acting Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Education and Teaching

Faculty of Arts and Science – late withdrawal without academic penalty – litigation related to family and illness of family members – demands imposed by lawsuit known by drop date – date of Trial not sufficient excuse for default – increased stress from relatives' illness occurred after default – penalty imposed on assignment sufficiently clear and severe – consideration of general policy regarding and approach to late withdrawal without academic penalty in light of University admitting younger students – Committee found that policy should not be revised as a result of this case – minority opinion that policy should be amended and appeal allowed – appeal dismissed – recommendation that University review policy with respect to academic support for younger students

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student failed the course. The Student claimed that she was overwhelmed by time demands arising out of assistance to her father's litigation, and emotional stress as well as time demands arising from the serious illness of her aunt and grandmother. The Student claimed that if the course instructor had been more severe with the lateness penalty imposed on the first assignment handed in late then she would have dropped the course. The Committee considered the Student’s submissions and the University and Committee’s approach to the policy on late withdrawal without academic penalty as described in Report #264. The Committee found that the demands imposed by the lawsuit were known by the Student by the drop date and that the date of the Trial did not provided sufficient excuse for the Student's default with respect to the first three papers. The situation with regard to the aunt and grandmother was known, and while their health had deteriorated, increasing the stress upon the Student, the circumstances occurred after the Student had so severely defaulted in the course that her situation was almost certainly irreparable. The Committee found that the penalty imposed on the first assignment was sufficiently clear and severe so that no reasonable student could have been lulled into a sense of security with respect to the instructor’s approach to time defaults. The Committee considered whether the general policy on late withdrawal without academic penalty should be revisited in order to allow relief to younger first year students. The Committee found that it should not attempt to revise a policy that has been generally applied by so many Academic Appeals Committee panels and by the Divisions. The minority found that the policy should be amended and that relief should be granted. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that the University undertake a review of its policies with respect to the admittance of younger students and to consider whether the University should be more proactive in reaching out to younger students.



FILE: Report #264
DATE: March 25, 2002
PARTIES: Ms A.H., the Appellant (the Student) v. UTSC

Hearing Date(s): March 14th, 2002

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Acting Chair
Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor Luigi Girolametto
Ms Wendy Swinton
Ms Geta Yadav

Secretary:
Mr. Paul Holmes, Judicial Affairs Officer

In Attendance:

For the Appellant:

Ms A.H., the Appellant ("the Student")
Ms E. Morton, counsel

For UTSC:
Associate Dean I. McDonald
Ms Sherylin Biason

UTSC – late withdrawal without academic penalty – family pressures, financial circumstances and illness of family member – wrong to impose rules as rigorous as are imposed by appellate courts but Committee can refuse to consider new evidence – recommendation that all students are warned that full disclosure of all relevant facts is required at petition stage – nature of issue sufficiently disclosed in original petition – University policy on drop dates does not apply when unanticipated circumstances arise after the drop date, when then existing circumstances unexpectedly become significantly more severe, or when then existing circumstances were reasonably expected to abate, but did not – awareness of adverse circumstances and failing grades by drop date – late receipt of mark not grounds for relief because petition not filed promptly – difficulties associated with family member’s illness occurring around or after the drop date not exempted from drop date policy – appeal dismissed

Request to withdrawal late without academic penalty from one course. The Student failed the course. The Student claimed that her stressful situation, derived from family pressures, financial circumstances and the illness of her mother, prevented her from performing adequately in the course. The Committee considered an objection by the Faculty to the Student’s introduction of new evidence and found that while it would be wrong to impose rules as rigorous as are imposed by appellate courts, the refusal to consider new evidence is an option open to the Committee. The Committee recommended that all students are clearly warned in writing, at the time that they are instituting the first steps of a petition process, that they must make full disclosure of all relevant facts upon which they rely, at risk of not being allowed to raise those facts at later stages of the process. The Committee found that the essential nature of the Student’s issue was sufficiently disclosed in her original petition such that the details should be allowed to be filled in at the Committee level. The Committee considered the University’s policy on drop dates and found that the policy does not apply when unanticipated circumstances arise after the drop date, when then existing circumstances unexpectedly become significantly more severe, or when then existing circumstances were reasonably expected to abate, but did not. The Committee found that by the drop date, the Student was aware of the burdens placed upon her by her circumstances and she knew that she had failing grades in her tests and her midterm examination. The Committee found that the Student’s receipt of a failing test after the drop date did not justify relief because she did not file her petition promptly after receipt of the mark. The Committee found that the difficulties the Student faced due to her mother's medical condition occurred around or after the drop date but that the circumstances did not exempt her from the drop date policy. If her return to the family home as a caregiver was foreseen at the drop date, the caregiving burden should have been factored into her appraisal of her chances of completing all of her courses successfully and if it was not foreseen, the Student must have anticipated that her situation of living away from home and holding a job to support herself would continue. The Committee found that the Student gambled that she could succeed in the course, or, if she could not, that she could seek to withdraw from one or more of her courses near the end of term. Appeal dismissed.