Report #357

DATE: September 29, 2011
PARTIES: University of Toronto v C.O.

Hearing Date(s): June 21, 2011

Committee Members:
Sara Faherty, Chair
Ellen Hodnett, Faculty Member
Kent Kuran, Student Member

Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Robert Hares, Law Student Observer, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

For the Student: C.O. (student)
For UTSC, John Scherk, Vice Dean
For UTSC, the Professor, via audio-video internet connection
For UTSC, Sari Springer, counsel

UTSC – re-read of term work – appeal dismissed – Student failed to present substantive arguments – reliance on conclusory statements and unsubstantiated allegations – several arguments had no bearing on the merits of the appeal

Appeal of decision of UTSC Academic Appeals Board denying Student’s petition for re-read of term assignment. Student submitted a five-page research proposal and literature review followed by a 12-page research paper intended to fulfill the earlier, shorter research proposal. Student received a C grade on the proposal and a B+ grade on the full research paper. Student received a C grade in the course. Student asserted that her proposal was undervalued, that the course was subject to a strictly enforced quota system on marks, that the proposal was returned late, that the her final mark was deliberately recorded improperly, that various communications among UTSC administrators and faculty about the Student violated her privacy, that it was improper for her to be required to pay $13.00 for a clerical check on the improperly recorded mark, and that UTSC’s processes are slow and poorly explained or administered.

The Committee unanimously dismissed the Student’s appeal, concluding that the Appeals Board of UTSC was justified in denying her request for a re-read. The Committee concluded that the Student did not present the kinds of substantive arguments the UTSC requires before granting a petition for a re-read. The Student relied on conclusory statements instead of discussion about the merits of her work. There was no evidence to support the Student’s contention that the professor was subject to a strictly enforced quota system on marks. Further, her arguments about late returns, rounding errors, user fees, and administrative delays do not have any bearing on the academic merit of the work she produced. The Committee noted that the Student seemed convinced that these apparently unrelated arguments served as evidence of a concerted effort on the part of the division to single her out and under-value her academic work. The Committee saw no evidence of any such effort, nor was there any indication that her personal information was ever improperly disclosed. The UTSC was found to have appropriately applied its policy on granting re-reads of term work.