Report #291

DATE: June 14, 2004
PARTIES: Ms T., the Appellant v. Faculty of Law


Hearing Date(s): May 22, 2004

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Professor Clare Beghtol
Dr. Pamela Catton
Ms Françoise Ko
Professor Jake Thiessen

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Mr. Paul Holmes

In Attendance:
Ms T., the Appellant
Mr. T., brother of the appellant
Associate Dean Tony Duggan, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Faculty of Law – grade appeal – aegrotat standing, “pass” standing, or increase from grade requested – aegrotate standing – external assessment of academic work – delay, frustration, late instructions and lack of guidance – delay and frustration met definition of exceptional circumstances – more time to complete the assignment without delay and frustration – better performance with earlier instructions – grade inconsistent with other grades – appeal allowed – grade of "D" vacated and replaced with a grade of AEG – recommendation that the Faculty provide its faculty with information regarding orientation, evaluation methods, and the obligations of its teaching staff – unfairness related to the third party reader process – violation of procedure for a third party reader to receive extraneous comments

Appeal from a grade of “D” in the course. The Student requested one of three remedies: “Aegrotat” standing; “pass” standing; or an increase from the grade of “D”. The Student elected to write an essay worth 100% of the final grade. The Student sought review of the grade through a third party reader before applying to the Faculty’s Academic Standing Committee for aegrotat standing in the course. The Student claimed relief based on the excessive time she devoted to preliminary research while seeking topic approval, her frustrations in obtaining topic approval, the lack of guidance provided by the instructor in topic development and on the final topic, and the very late start date on which she had to begin writing the paper. The Committee considered the grounds upon which the Faculty awards aegrotat standing and found that the delay and frustration that the Student experienced met the definition of exceptional circumstances, despite no illness or a traumatic personal experience being suffered. The Committee found that due to the circumstances, the Student was unable to satisfactorily complete the requirements of a course where otherwise she would have performed successfully. Without the delay and frustration the student experienced researching topics she would have had more time to complete the assignment; with earlier instructions regarding the professor’s expectations for the paper and greater supervision once the topic was approved, she would have performed better; and the grade was inconsistent with the Student’s other grades awarded at the Faculty. Appeal allowed. The Committee ordered that the grade of "D" be vacated and replaced with a grade of AEG. The Committee recommended that the Faculty provide its faculty, and particularly adjunct professors, with information regarding orientation, evaluation methods, and the obligations of its teaching staff. The student also alleged unfairness related to the processes for appealing grades at the Faculty. The Student claimed that the third party reader received written information from the course professor regarding the circumstances relating to topic approval while she was not allowed to submit similar material. The Committee stated that the third party reader receiving extraneous comments was a violation of the procedure by which third party readers are meant to evaluate only the paper.