Report 411

DATE: November 26, 2020

PARTIES: J.H. (the “Student”) v. University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

HEARING DATE: November 2, 2020, via Zoom

Ms. Sara Faherty

For the Student Appellant:
Mr. J.H. (the “Student”)

For the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering:
Professor Thomas Coyle, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

This appeal stems from the Academic Appeals Board of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (“AAB”) decision to deny the Student’s request for an expungement of his transcript. The Student is seeking complete expungement of his transcript, removal of any evidence that he was ever enrolled at the University, and removal of seven previously granted Student Retroactive Withdrawals (“WDR”).

The AAB determined that although it was sympathetic to the Student’s circumstances, it was unable to expunge a student record and alternatively, granted the WDRs for all remaining courses on his transcript so that no grades or credits remain. Furthermore, the Division offered to provide a letter to the Student to include with his applications to other institutions explaining that the Faculty granted him a late withdrawal from all courses and that he retains no credits from the University.

The motivation for the request to expunge his transcript is the Student’s desire to start his post-secondary academic career over again at a film school. He has been in touch with various schools and he would like to apply as a freshman, rather than a transfer student. His eligibility as a freshman will determine how many years he can spend at the institution he wishes to attend; two vs four years. The Student prefers to attend for a full four years and feels his admission chances are better if he is considered a freshman. The Student relied on persuasive evidence that he was pressured to enroll in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering and treated harshly resulting in the Student being mentally unwell. The Student reports that he was subject to physical and emotional abuse which eventually led to an incident where police and emergency services were involved. This incident ended the Student’s term, and his transcript shows WDR for seven courses for the Winter term of that year. The Student states that the policies of the institutions he wishes to attend will treat him as a transfer student if he has any University level courses completed at another institution, however, the Committee noted that the submissions of the Student were not supported by his communications with those institutions. Ultimately, those institutions indicated that they would not treat the Student like a transfer student if he did not earn a credit at another University.

The Committee found that the Student is asking for a remedy that cannot be reasonably granted even if the Committee is able to protect the Student from academic consequences of his past enrollments, the Committee cannot require the Division to remove all traces from the Student’s record. The Governing Council’s Transcript Policy requires that an academic transcript “must include…an enrollment history, which traces chronologically the student’s participation at the University.” The Committee found that the removal of evidence that a course was attempted would be to falsify the academic record. The University can remove record of a student’s academic performance, but it cannot undo the fact that the Student was enrolled in courses at the University. Further, in the Statement Concerning Change of Student Personal Information in Official Academic Records outlines that “the accuracy of students’ academic records is fundamental to the integrity of the University’s academic mission.” The Student is requesting that the Committee direct the Division to remove any record of the Student at the University however, the Committee found that the University cannot erase and replace its records depending on the benefit it may provide the former student. The integrity of the academic record must be maintained and cannot be falsified; therefore, expungement is not an appropriate remedy. It would be inappropriate for the Committee to direct the Division to grant a remedy that violates the integrity of its records. The Division has provided a remedy that has virtually the same impact as expunging the records which was a very generous application of its policies. The Committee affirms the decision of the AAB. Appeal dismissed.