DATE: May 23, 2018
PARTIES: Mr. F.Z. (the “Student”) v. the Faculty of Faculty of Arts and Science
Hearing Date(s): April 12, 2018
Ms. Vanessa Laufer (Chair)
Professor Avrum Gotlieb, Faculty Governor
Ms. Mama Adobea Nii Owoo, Student Governor
Mr. Chris Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Ms. Tracey Gameiro, Associate Director Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
For the Student:
For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Mr. Robert A. Centa, Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenbert Rothstein LLP
Ms. Emily Home, Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenbert Rothstein LLP
Professor Melanie Woodin, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Issues and Academic Planning,
Faculty of Arts and Science
Faculty of Arts and Science – timeliness – student has responsibility to inform themselves of procedures - Aegrotat Standing – insufficient impact of medical condition – insufficient coursework completed prior to final exam to grant Aegrotat standing - late withdrawal without penalty not appropriate absent extraordinary circumstances arising after drop date - re-write of deferred exam – adequate accommodations already provided by the Faculty – recommendation that Faculty establish policies concerning communication with students about progress of petitions - appeal dismissed
Appeal by the Student of a decision from Academic Appeals Board for the Faculty of Arts and Science (AAB) that denied the Student aegrotat standing, late withdrawal without academic penalty, and the opportunity to rewrite the deferred exam on the basis of medical, procedural and compassionate grounds. The Student had completed the coursework and had written two and a half hours of the three-hour final exam because he was experiencing abdominal pains. The Student received a grade of 48% on the final exam. The Faculty granted the Student’s request to receive a reread of the final exam and recheck of the final course mark, which resulted in the final exam mark being confirmed and a re-weighing of the Student’s course work so that it comprised a larger portion of the course mark. The Student passed the course and graduated with honours from the University in 2014.
Both sides had waived issues of timeliness. However, the Committee noted that it was reasonable for the AAB to determine that the Student had not met all of these requirements to file a petition set out in the Faculty’s rules and regulations when he had originally filed the petition on September 27, 2011. The petition was accompanied only by the signed medical certificate and the Student’s email to the Registrar, which the Committee found was reasonable for the AAB to conclude was not sufficient to be an ‘accompanying statement’ within the meaning of the Faculty’s rules concerning petitions. The Committee recommended that it would be helpful for faculties to establish clear policies to communicate to students when a petition has been received, whether or not the petition received is complete; and that makes the deadline for completion of a petition explicit.
In dismissing the Student’s request for aegrotat standing (AEG), the Committee referred to the University Assessment and Grading Practices Policy, January 26, 2012, which provides that aegrotat standing may be granted “on the basis of term work and medical or similar evidence where the student was not able to write the final examination in the course. AEG is assigned by a division upon approval of a student’s petition. It carries credit for the course but is not considered for averaging purposes.” The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Rules & Regulations 2011-12 Academic Calendar, provides that aegrotat standing “… may be authorized only by petition….”and that “… The claim of illness … is not sufficient grounds in itself to guarantee approval of the request.” The Committee found that the Student’s medical circumstances were not severe enough to grant Aegrotat standing and that even if they were, the policy states that experiencing an illness does not in itself guarantee approval. The Committee found that it was reasonable for the AAB to have concluded that the Student had completed, and not abandoned, the exam. Further, the Committee supported the AAB’s finding that prior to the exam the Student had only completed 35% of the course work, which was not sufficient coursework to grant aegrotat standing.
The Committee went on to dismiss the Student’s request for late withdrawal without academic penalty (WDR) on the basis of the Faculty’s Petition Guide which provides that WDR after the end of classes is a remedy reserved where circumstances beyond the student’s control arose after the last date for course cancellation, and is not appropriate where a student has completed all the course work. The Committee supported the AAB’s finding that the Student did not abandon the exam and had finished the course, especially since he had received a regrade and had been accommodated by his instructor in re-weighing the coursework and receiving a deferral of the final exam.
The Committee dismissed the Student’s request to rewrite the final exam on the basis of the finding of fact that the Student had not abandoned the exam, as well, the Committee felt that too much time had passed since the exam was written (close to six years ago) that it would place an undue burden on the Student and on the instructor to recreate an appropriate exam. In these circumstances, the Committee found an exam rewrite would be neither fair nor reasonable. The Student’s allegations of bias and insufficient reasons were dismissed on the basis of insufficient evidence supporting the submissions.