Report #280

DATE: June 11, 2003
PARTIES: Ms. S. (The Student) v. the Faculty of Arts and Science


Hearing Date(s): June 2nd, 2003

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Chair
Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor Sherwin Desser
Mr. Chris Ramsaroop
Mrs. Susan Scace

Secretary:
Mr. Paul Holmes, Judicial Affairs Officer

In Attendance:

For the Appellant:

Ms S., the Appellant ("the Student")
Ms Elee Scarlett, Counsel
Mr. Jeremy Speight
Professor Aurel Braun
Professor David Wolfe

For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Vice-Dean Susan Howson

Faculty of Arts and Science – late withdrawal without academic penalty – physical and psychological effects of serious medical condition – no reasonable time to adjust and recover before drop date or before evaluations completed and submitted – appeal allowed – grade in the course vacated, and Student to be permitted to withdraw without academic penalty – recommendation that a warning be issued that University staff who undertake to advise students must not divulge information received or make any comment based upon it without the student's permission – concern with Divisional Appeal Board’s decision – any advice from the Divisional Appeal Board should follow after the decision called for by the appeal, and not control the decision

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student received a grade of "C" in the course. It was not in issue that the Student suffered physical and psychological effects of a serious medical condition, including stress awaiting the diagnosis of her condition, and further stress when the diagnosis was received. 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 and found that between the receipt of her diagnosis and the drop date for the course, the Student was in a state of emotional upset from which she had no reasonable time to recover. The Committee found that advice to carry on with her courses had contributed to the Student’s stress, and that due to the short period between the drop date and the end of the course the Student had no time to recover before the evaluations for the course were completed and submitted. Appeal allowed. The Committee ordered that the grade in the course be vacated, and that the Student be permitted to withdraw from that course without academic penalty. The Committee recommended that a warning be issued that staff of the University who undertake to advise or counsel students, and who receive a student's confidences, must not divulge the information received or make any comment based upon it, without the student's permission. The Committee stated that it was concerned about the reasons for judgment of the Divisional Appeals Board. The Committee observed that the exclusive concentration upon the better course of action to achieve the Student's goals in launching the appeal resulted in the Board failing to consider what the necessary conditions to permit late withdrawal were, and whether the Student had established those conditions. The Committee observed that if the Student had established the necessary conditions than she was entitled to the relief sought, whether it was wise to proceed to take it or not. Any advice from the Board should follow after the decision called for by the appeal and not control the decision.