Report #372

DATE: April 25, 2014
PARTIES: Mr. M.K.A. (the Student) v. the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Hearing Date(s): March 18, 2014
Committee Members:
Professor Hamish Stewart (Chair)
Professor Hugh Gunz
Ms. Alexandra Harris
Secretary:
Ms. Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Appearances:
For the Student Appellant:
Mr. M.K.A., the Appellant (“the Student”)
For the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering:
Professor Peter Herman, Chair of the Committee on Examinations
Mr. Khuong Doan, Associate Registrar, Student Services
Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering – late withdrawal without academic penalty – medical issues caused the Student’s to miss his deferred examination on all of the scheduled dates – Faculty refused to allow further deferrals or withdrawal from the Course – Committee held that this situation was not one of a Student “cherry-picking” courses to improve his transcript, but rather one of trying to find an appropriate solution for a difficult situation brought on by medical problems – evaluating the Student on the basis of the examination that the Faculty had already recognized was not a proper test of his understanding of the Course material was not a fair application of the Faculty’s policies – appeal allowed
Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student became ill while writing the exam for the Course and he was granted a deferred exam. Further medical issues caused him to miss the deferred exam. The Student then petitioned the Committee on Examinations (CE) for late withdrawal from the entire term. That petition was granted. The Student subsequently petitioned the CE again, stating that he had intended to seek late withdrawal only from the Course, not from the entire term. The CE granted the petition in part, vacating the decision withdrawing the Student from the entire term but refusing withdrawal from the Course, instead reinstating the deferred examination. The Student missed that deferred examination. The Student then petitioned the CE for retroactive withdrawal from the Course, supported by a University Verification of Student Illness or Injury form stating that the Student was significantly impaired in ability to fulfil academic obligations on the date of the deferred exam. The CE dismissed the petition without reasons.
The Student then appealed to the Academic Appeals Board (AAB). The AAB dismissed the appeal, noting that no additional evidence was provided to support granting the exceptional request of late withdrawal without academic penalty (see Report #348).
The Student then appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee. The Committee noted that it was odd that the medical evidence placed before the CE was sufficient to justify the Student’s late withdrawal from the entire term, but not for one course taken during that term. Though the Committee agreed with the Faculty that students should not be able to improve their transcripts retroactively by “cherry-picking” courses from which to withdraw late, in this case the Student was not attempting to cherry-pick but rather to find an appropriate solution for a difficult situation brought on by a number of medical problems. The Committee did not agree with the AAB that there was no additional evidence before it, noting that the Student submitted a medical explanation. The Committee found that the Faculty’s decision to evaluate the Student’s performance on the basis of the examination originally written effectively unravelled the accommodation that the Faculty had granted him, as the Faculty had already recognized that that examination was not a proper test of the Student’s understanding of the course material. The Committee concluded that this was not a fair application of the Faculty’s policies and that late withdrawal without academic penalty was an appropriate remedy for the Student’s situation. Appeal allowed.
The Committee denied the Faculty’s request to redact the names of all of the Faculty’s faculty and staff who were involved in the Student’s case, noting that the fact that an individual was acting in an official or institutional capacity is not by itself a reason for redacting that person’s name (see Report #367).