Report #328

DATE: January 21, 2009
PARTIES: Ms. S. A. (the Student) v. UTM


Hearing Date(s): December 19, 2008

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Renu Mandhane, Chair
Professor Elizabeth Cowper
Mr. Ken Davy
Professor William Gough
Professor Louise Lemieux-Charles

In Attendance:
Ms. Nancy Smart, Judicial Affairs Officer
Ms. Mette Mai, Assistant Judicial Affairs Officer
Ms. Bonnie Goldberg, Representative of the Judicial Affairs Office
Ms. S. A., the Student
Professor Gordon Anderson, UTM

UTM – late withdrawal without academic penalty – emotional difficulties related to father’s hospitalization – late petitions allowed despite unusual and lengthy passage of time – University regulations known – withdrawal should have been considered due to failure in another course – appeal dismissed – recommendation to clarify Divisional policy on potential conflicts of interest in relation to academic appeals

Request to withdrawal late without academic penalty from four courses due to personal circumstances. The Student claimed she performed poorly due to emotional difficulty related to her father’s hospitalization in Iran following a car accident. Three petitions were filed, all approximately four years after the Student completed the courses. The Committee agreed that UTM appropriately allowed the Student to petition for late withdrawal without academic penalty despite the unusual and lengthy passage of time. The Committee agreed with the Divisional Appeal Board’s decision to reject the Student’s submission that she was unaware of University regulations because she had petitioned and was granted the opportunity to write a special deferred exam in a different course during the relevant time period. The Committee agreed with the Divisional Appeal Board’s decision that because the Student had failed another course in the fall of the relevant time period, she should have realized that she would be unable to successfully complete the academic year and considered dropping the rest of her courses. One of the panel members on the Divisional Appeals Board had also been an instructor in one of the Student’s courses at issue in the appeal. The Committee recommended that UTM clarify its policy on potential conflicts of interest in relation to the students and faculty members selected to hear academic appeals so as to prevent possible future appearances of bias. Appeal dismissed.