Report #385

DATE: July 26, 2016

PARTIES: Ms. V.T. (the Student) v. the Faculty of Arts and Science
Hearing Date(s): May 27, 2016
Committee Members:
Ms. Sara Faherty, Chair
Professor Jan Mahrt- Smith
Mr. Alex Ivovic
Secretary:
Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Appearances:
For the Student Appellant:
Ms. V.T.
For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Professor Anne-Marie Brousseau, Assistant Dean, Undergraduate
Faculty of Arts and Science – deferred examination – Student missed five term evaluations for various medical, legal, and personal problems – Faculty’s refusal to accept the Student’s Verification of Student Illness of Injury form was reasonable given the gaps between the doctor’s examination and the completion of the form – appeal dismissed
Appeal from the decision of the Academic Appeals Board of the Faculty of Arts and Science refusing the Student’s request for a deferral of three examinations and the completion of two missed term tests. The Student cited multiple legal, personal, and health issues to explain her failure to write the evaluations. The Faculty refused to accept the Student’s Verification of Student Illness or Injury form due to the gap in time between the date of the doctor’s examination of the Student and the dates of the missed exam; the form was completed by the examining physician nine months after the Student’s illness and amended again eight months later. The Student first appealed the Faculty’s refusal to grant her deferrals for the five examinations to the Committee on Standing, then to the Academic Appeals Board, and then to the Academic Appeals Committee.
The Committee found that the Faculty’s rule that a medical visit must be close in time to the missed exam to be reasonable. The doctor’s examination occurred on March 18th, and the missed exams took place between April 3rd and 24th, leaving a 23-day gap between the Student’s verified illness and missed exam. The comments regarding the Student’s inability to write the test on her exam days were added to the form one year and five months after the medical examination. The Faculty’s Calendar set forth its policies on deferred examinations and medical documentation in great detail, and it emphasizes that the physician’s report must establish that the patient was examined and diagnosed at the time of the illness, not after the fact.
The Committee noted that the Student did not try to register with Accessibility Services until the day of her first missed term test, and emphasized that Accessibility Services did not support the Student’s petition. The Committee also took into account the Student’s apparent confusion regarding the instructions given to her by Accessibility Services, and the lack of a clear Faculty rule regarding an acceptable amount of time between the date of a doctor’s examination and the date of the missed exam. The Committee concluded that though the Faculty’s complex and nuanced rules and policies around accommodations places a burden on students, ultimately the Student’s failure to provide reliable evidence, coupled with the fact that Accessibility Services did not support her petition, made it difficult to accept her arguments.
The Committee also noted that the Student’s legal problems began at the beginning of the term in question, and though it expressed sympathy for the Student’s personal difficulties, the Committee concluded that the Student’s difficulties were not unforeseen and did not significantly worsen at the time of her missed exams.
The Committee stated that it believed the Student and the doctor had acted in good faith, but noted the problems inherent in the Student’s Verification of Student Illness or Injury form made the form insufficient to establish the Student’s right to a deferral. The Committee concluded that the decision of the Academic Appeals Board was reasonable. Noting the Faculty’s tailored approach to cases and its lack of a rigid timeframe, the Committee recommended that the Faculty provide clearer reasons with respect to the criteria considered in determining whether a medical visit is sufficiently close in time to the relevant exam date in different cases. Appeal dismissed.