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, or be 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.