Case #252

DATE: November 1, 2000

PARTIES: Mr. O. (the “Student”) v. School of Graduate Studies

HEARING DATES: December 7, 1999; November 1, 2000

Committee Members:

November 1, 2000
Professor Alan Mewett, Acting Chair
Mr. Muhammad Ahmad
Professor Wayne Hindmarsh
Ms Susan Scace

Professor Donna Wells

December 7, 1999
Professor Alan Mewett, Acting Chair Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor John Mayhall
Mr. Kashif Pirzada

Professor Ronald Venter

Appearances:

For the Student Appellant:
Mr. O. (the “Student”)

For the School of Graduate Studies:
Ms Sari Springer, Cassels Brock & Blackwell
Professor C. Grisé, former Acting Associate Dean, Division I (only on December 7, 1999)

Secretary: Ms. Susan Girard, November 1, 2000
Secretary: Ms. Patti Seaman, December 7, 1999

The Student appealed from a decision of the Graduate Academic Appeals Board ordering a re-read of the Student’s paper. The University filed a motion for summary dismissal on the basis that the appeal had been brought out of time and on the ground that the appeal was frivolous and vexatious.

The Academic Appeals Committee (AAC) determined that what the Student was really appealing was the procedure followed during the process of the re-reading of his paper. In dismissing the motion to quash the appeal on the ground that it was brought out of time, the AAC stated that it was clear that the Student was diligent in pursuing the appeal and if he was late at all, it was only a matter of a day or two. With regard to the motion for summary dismissal on the ground that the appeal was vexatious, the AAC noted that it was not incumbent on the Student at that stage to prove that the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) did not follow its own rules in ensuring that the re-reading of his paper was fair, impartial and without bias. The Student merely had to show that this was a possible interpretation of the events in question. The Committee was of the view that the Student had made out a sufficient case to warrant the hearing of the appeal, and dismissed the motion for summary dismissal.

At the substantive hearing of the Student’s appeal, the Student alleged that improper communications had occurred between SGS and the re-reader, that may have influenced the re-reader in his assessment. The University again moved that the matter be summarily dismissed as being frivolous or vexatious and as disclosing no proper grounds for appeal. The AAC was, however, of the opinion that one clause of the Student’s Notice of Appeal, construed favourably towards the Student, could support his appeal. The University’s motion for summary dismissal was therefore rejected.

In determining the substantive merits of the appeal, the Committee found there was absolutely no credible evidence to support the Student’s allegation of improper communication. It noted, however, that it was the practice of the University to send a copy of the re-reader's assessment to the student and to delete any comment not relevant to the assessment. The AAC stated that this was not a wise practice and that it was preferable, in its opinion, that the student be given an exact copy of the written assessment, save only for any matter that might disclose the identity of the re-reader.

The Committee dismissed the appeal.