Report #383

DATE: June 1, 2016

PARTIES: Ms. P.M. (the Student) v. the School of Graduate Studies (SGS)
Hearing Date(s): May 25, 2016
Committee Members:
Professor Andrew Green, Chair
Professor Hugh Gunz
Mr. Ridwan Olow
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, and Ms. Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
For the Student Appellant:
Ms. P.M., the Appellant (“the Student”)
For SGS:
Mr. Robert A. Centa, Counsel
Professor Luc De Nil, Vice Dean, SGS
Ms. Emma Thatcher, Associate Director, Graduate Affairs, SGS
School of Graduate Studies – reinstatement to program – Student failed two courses – personal and familial difficulties – Departmental policy recommends expulsion when students fail two courses – new medical evidence was of too limited a nature to support a finding that the GAAB had been unreasonable – in some cases, it is appropriate for the Committee to take the Student’s actions following the events central to the appeal into account, but here taking the Student’s later successes into account did not affect the reasonability of the GAAB decision – Student’s unsuccessful appeal of one of the failed courses contributed to the reasonability of the GAAB’s decision – appeal dismissed
Appeal from the SGS’s decision to terminate the Student’s registration in her Program. The Student failed two courses in the Department of Civil Engineering, and pursuant to the Department’s policies, the Department recommended that the Student withdraw from the Program and the SGS terminated her registration. The Student appealed the termination to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board. The GAAB dismissed the appeal, noting that despite its sympathy for the Student’s personal and familial difficulties, her failed courses (one of which had been appealed at three levels; see Report #379) justified the Department’s recommendation for termination.
The Student then appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee. The Committee emphasized that its role was to decide whether the GAAB decision upholding the termination was reasonable, and not to revisit the failures of the courses themselves. The Student adduced new medical evidence that had not been before the GAAB, but the Committee concluded that neither the SGS nor the GAAB would have come to a different conclusion if they had had this information; because of its limited nature, the new medical evidence did not support a finding that the GAAB decision was unreasonable. The Committee noted that it may, in some cases, be appropriate for the SGS to take into account the performance of a student in courses taken subsequent to the events central to the appeal; a complete exclusion of such information would be unfair to the students and may in some cases lead to an unreasonable termination decision. However, in this case, the Committee concluded that even taking into account the Student’s academic success following her failures the GAAB decision was not unreasonable.
The Committee concluded that the SGS followed a fair process in making its decision, citing the warnings provided to the Student and opportunities she had to provide information to the SGS and to appeal the underlying marks. It was reasonable for the GAAB to uphold the SGS decision based on the fact that the Student was unsuccessful in her appeals related to one of the failed courses and that she did not appeal the second course. Appeal dismissed.