DATE: September 29, 2011
PARTIES: University of Toronto v C.O.
Hearing Date(s): June 21, 2011
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 and final exam – appeal dismissed – professor had no intention of doing anything contrary to Divisional policy – amenability of a faculty member to performing a re-read is not relevant to the question of whether a re-read is justified – Student failed to present substantive arguments – reliance on conclusory statements and unsubstantiated allegations – a student’s precarious academic situation does not constitute a substantive reason for a re-read
Appeal of decision of Divisional Appeals Board denying Student’s petitions for re-read of term work and final exam. Student was on academic probation at the time she was enrolled in the course in question. The Student received a C grade. The petition for a re-read was made, withdrawn, and re-asserted more than once. The Student made four primary submissions. First, that the professor had agreed to re-read her work. Second, that there was a calculation error in the Student’s grade for the course. Third, that a grade change in the course would have significant consequences. Finally, fourth, that administrators had been inappropriately involved in the petition process.
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 Division’s policies require an administrative body to allow or disallow requests for a change of mark. It was outside Divisional policy for the Student to ask a faculty member to review her work directly. The professor testified that she had never intended to violate Divisional policies when she had expressed—through an email—a willingness to re-evaluate the Student’s work. The fact that the professor did not expressly spell out her intention to comply with Divisional policies in that email does not negate her reasonable assumption that any interaction she had with the Student would be transparent and above board. The fact that the professor repeatedly referred the Student to Divisional policies and encouraged her to communicate with the registrar’s office is further indication of her intentions to follow the rules established in the Academic Calendar. Even if the professor had agreed to do something against Divisional policy, she would have been justified in rescinding any such over because such action would have been in violation of Divisional policies. The amenability of a faculty member to performing a re-read is not relevant to the question of whether or not a student has made a persuasive case that a re-read is justified. The Student made no substantive arguments about the academic quality of her work and relied instead on conclusory statements. These arguments did not constitute the clear grounds for reconsideration, addressing the substance of an answer in relation to the mark given it or otherwise identifying the nature of the alleged misevaluation that the Division’s policies require. There was no miscalculation in the Student’s final grade. The professor used a different rounding methodology than the Student’s advisor from the Academic Advising and Career Centre. The Student’s precarious academic situation does not constitute a substantive reason for a re-read. There was no evidence support the Student’s allegations that administrators had been improperly involved in the petition process.