Report #275

DATE: March 17, 2003
PARTIES: Ms. R. (the Appellant) v. the Faculty of Arts and Science


Hearing Date(s): March 11, 2003

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor Sherwin Desser
Professor Luigi Girolametto
Mr. Sean Mullin

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Mr. Paul Holmes

In Attendance:
Ms. R., the Appellant
Mr Shaun Laubman, Downtown Legal Services
Ms Nicole Redgate, Downtown Legal Services
Vice-Dean Susan Howson, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto

Faculty of Arts and Science – late withdrawal without academic penalty – bulimia – new evidence hears – stress from course exacerbated condition – reliance on advice of professor and mental health counselor – decision to choose mental health over studies only choice available – initiated attempts to get out of course within days of drop date, without final grade being assessed, and having obtained a respectable mark – assistance sought – condition considered despite not being raised in initial appeal – Divisional Appeals Board considered erroneous ground in its decision and did not consider professor’s advice – appeal allowed – grade of “F” in the course to be vacated and replaced with “WDR”

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student requested the remedy on compassionate, medical and procedural grounds. The Student claimed that she suffered from bulimia, which was exacerbated when she was under stress. Student claimed that she experienced extreme stress as a result of the course, which was confirmed to her by her mental health counselor. While waiting for the outcome of her petition for late withdrawal, the Student sought the assistance of her professor who advised her that she faced insurmountable difficulty in the course, recommended that she drop it and offered to support her petition to do so. The Student claimed that her bulimia worsened and relying on the advice of her professor and mental health counselor, and in recognition of the state of her mental health, she chose not to complete any further course requirements. The Student subsequently failed the course. The Committee found that the Student’s decision to choose her mental health over her studies and not continue in the course was the only choice available to her and to penalize the Student for that decision would be to disregard the serious medical and compassionate grounds surrounding her situation. The Committee found that with the assistance of a professor and a counselor, the Student identified the severity of her situation and took steps to ameliorate it. Although the Student missed the drop date for the course, she initiated attempts to get out of the course within days of the drop date, without having been assessed a final grade in the course, and having already obtained a respectable mid–term mark. The Committee considered the Student’s bulimia and the fact that she did not raise the condition in her initial appeal, and found that the condition was at the root of the Student’s difficulties and should be considered in the Committee’s decision. The Committee also allowed the appeal on procedural grounds, finding that the Divisional Appeals Board considered an erroneous ground in its decision and that the Board should have considered the reliance that the Student placed on her professor’s advice in its decision. Appeal allowed. The Committee ordered that the grade in the course be vacated and replaced with the non–grade report WDR.