Report #268

DATE: August 22, 2002
PARTIES: Mr A.M., the Appellant v. School of Graduates Studies


Hearing Date(s): August 1, 2002

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Professor David Jenkins
Professor John Furedy
Mr Harmeet Gill
Professor Luigi Girolametto

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Mr Paul Holmes

In Attendance:
Mr A.M., the Appellant
Mr Rashmi Desai, Associate Dean, Physical Sciences and Engineering for the School of Graduate Studies
Professor Shamim Sheikh, Graduate Studies Coordinator, Physical Sciences and Engineering, School of Graduates Studies

School of Graduates Studies – request to remain in program and repeat two courses – alternative request to apply for re–admission to program – financial circumstances – enrollment in continuing education – difficulty acclimatizing to university culture – allegation of bias – financial circumstances and decision to pursue supplemental learning could not excuse failure to meet University standards – circumstances did not allow two-failure rule to be overridden nor appropriate to make exception to rule – not unduly disadvantaged relative to other students – no evidence of procedural error, unfairness or bad faith in assessment process – minority opinion that financial hardship affected Student’s performance and to grant relief on compassionate grounds would not be dangerous precedent – appeal dismissed

Request to remain in the M.Eng program and repeat two courses. Alternatively, the Student requested that he be allowed to apply for re–admission to the program. The Student received failing grades in two graduate level courses. The Student was subsequently terminated from the program. The Student appealed the failing grades on compassionate grounds. The Student claimed that his academic performance suffered due to financial circumstances which required that he work during the school term and that he not reduce his course load so as to remain eligible for OSAP. The Student claimed that his performance also suffered due to his enrollment in continuing education classes. With respect to the first course failed, the Student claimed that he had difficulty acclimatizing to the university culture, and particularly navigating the library system. He also claimed that the he did not receive course work assistance from his professor. With respect to the second course failure, the Student received a failing grade in his term project and the course professor suggested that it appeared to be plagiarized. The Student also claimed that the course professor suggested that he had cheated on a prior exam. The Committee found that the Student’s financial circumstances and decision to pursue supplemental learning could not excuse his failure to meet the necessary University standards. The Committee found that the circumstances of the Student’s case did not allow it to override a Faculty rule requiring a student to leave the program after two failures, nor did the Committee feel it appropriate to request the Faculty to make an exception to the rule. With respect to the first course failed, the Committee found that the Student was not unduly disadvantaged relative to other students. He was able to obtain the text book before the examination, and the professor’s decision not to provide additional assistance to the Student was consistent with the approach of the professor in the course. With respect to the second course failed, the Committee found that the Student failed the course based on poor performance, and not as a result of the allegation of plagiarism as the appearance of plagiarism was only apparent to the professor after he marked the project. The Committee found that there is no basis on which to review the marks assigned for the work in the course, as there was no evidence of procedural error, unfairness or bad faith in the assessment process. A minority of the Committee found that financial hardship had more to do with the Student’s performance in the courses then the student’s true ability. The minority observed that had universal assured graduate student funding been in place the Student’s situation would have been avoided and that to grant the Student relief on compassionate grounds would not create a dangerous precedent. Appeal dismissed.