Report #314

DATE: March 9, 2007
PARTIES: The Student Appellant v. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Hearing Date(s): February 20, 2007

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Senior Chair
Professor Jan Angus
Mr. Kristofer Coward
Professor William Gough
Ms Maureen Somerville

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Dr. Anthony Gray

In Attendance:
the Student Appellant

For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Ms Sari Springer (Counsel)
Ms Elaine Ishibashi, Associate Registrar
Professor Suzanne Stevenson, Acting Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Education and Teaching

Faculty of Arts and Science – late withdrawal without academic penalty – litigation related to family and illness of family members – demands imposed by lawsuit known by drop date – date of Trial not sufficient excuse for default – increased stress from relatives' illness occurred after default – penalty imposed on assignment sufficiently clear and severe – consideration of general policy regarding and approach to late withdrawal without academic penalty in light of University admitting younger students – Committee found that policy should not be revised as a result of this case – minority opinion that policy should be amended and appeal allowed – appeal dismissed – recommendation that University review policy with respect to academic support for younger students

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student failed the course. The Student claimed that she was overwhelmed by time demands arising out of assistance to her father's litigation, and emotional stress as well as time demands arising from the serious illness of her aunt and grandmother. The Student claimed that if the course instructor had been more severe with the lateness penalty imposed on the first assignment handed in late then she would have dropped the course. 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. The Committee found that the demands imposed by the lawsuit were known by the Student by the drop date and that the date of the Trial did not provided sufficient excuse for the Student's default with respect to the first three papers. The situation with regard to the aunt and grandmother was known, and while their health had deteriorated, increasing the stress upon the Student, the circumstances occurred after the Student had so severely defaulted in the course that her situation was almost certainly irreparable. The Committee found that the penalty imposed on the first assignment was sufficiently clear and severe so that no reasonable student could have been lulled into a sense of security with respect to the instructor’s approach to time defaults. The Committee considered whether the general policy on late withdrawal without academic penalty should be revisited in order to allow relief to younger first year students. The Committee found that it should not attempt to revise a policy that has been generally applied by so many Academic Appeals Committee panels and by the Divisions. The minority found that the policy should be amended and that relief should be granted. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that the University undertake a review of its policies with respect to the admittance of younger students and to consider whether the University should be more proactive in reaching out to younger students.