Report #368

DATE: October 15, 2013
PARTIES: Mr. J.B. (the Student) v. the Faculty of Law

Hearing Date(s): June 4, 2013
Committee Members:
Mr. Tad Brown, Chair
Dr. Sarita Verma
Mr. Chirag Variawa
Secretary:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Appearances:
For the Student Appellant:
Mr. J.B., the Appellant (“the Student”)
For the Faculty of Law:
Professor Ian Lee, Associate Dean, Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law – course grade appeal – request to change grade on transcript from “B” to “Credit” and to be issued an apology from the Faculty – Student disputed the Faculty’s policy disallowing the appeal of interim grades – no basis for the Student to appeal the Faculty’s policy – role of the Committee is to review the application of Faculty policies, not to change the policies – appeal dismissed
Request to change a grade on the Student’s transcript from “B” to “Credit.” In particular, the Student disputed whether the issuance of a Statement of Grades – an unofficial transcript which is used extensively by prospective employers looking to hire students for summer positions – was appropriate when combined with the application of the Faculty of Law’s policy which does not allow an appeal of those grades until the end of the academic year. Student originally sought to appeal his C+ assignment grade from the first term, but was denied because of the Faculty’s policy that an appeal can only be brought against a final grade in a course and not against an individual assignment grade. The Student’s final grade in the Course was a B. The Student asked the professor to re-assess his grade in the Course by re-assessing his grade on the first assignment. The professor confirmed the original grade.
Student then submitted a petition to the Academic Standing Committee seeking a change in his final grade from B to CR, accompanied by a notation explaining that the Faculty of Law failed to adhere to its administrative duties and that this failure had a negative effect on the Student’s performance, along with a letter of Apology from the Faculty. The ASC denied the petition, stating that it was not satisfied that the actions complained about actually prejudiced the Student’s performance.
Student then appealed to the Appeals Committee of the Faculty of Law. The Appeals Committee dismissed the appeal, noting that the Faculty’s policies permit the invocation of the appeal process for final grades only, and not for partial evaluations, reflecting the Faculty’s position on a number of important considerations. The Appeals Committee noted that by objecting to the absence of a “timely” appeal, the Student was not merely appealing a grade, but rather appealing the Faculty’s policy as not providing a timely process. The Appeals Committee concluded that there was no unfairness or unreasonableness in the manner in which the policy was applied to the Student, and noted that to change Faculty policy would be inappropriate and undesirable given the narrow scope of this single complaint.
Student then appealed to the Committee. In dispute was whether the application of the Faculty’s policy to only allow an appeal from a final course grade and not directly from an individual assignment grade caused the Student prejudice which warranted granting one or more of the remedies requested by the Student. The Committee noted that its role is to review the application of Faculty policies and to ensure that they are applied fairly, reasonably and consistently, and not to change Faculty policy. The Committee found that the Faculty of Law’s policy on appeals was applied fairly and reasonably, and also that the Faculty’s policy of not allowing appeals until the final grade has been issued is not inconsistent with the policies of the University. The Committee concluded that there was no justification for the requested remedy of replacing the mark for the Course on the Student’s transcript or for requiring a letter of apology from the Faculty. Appeal dismissed.