General Jurisdiction

FILE: Report #334
DATE: May 7, 2009
PARTIES: Ms. T. D. (the Student) v. the School of Graduate Studies

Hearing Date(s): April 22, 2009

Committee Members:
Professor L. Sossin (Chair)
Mr. Grant Gonzales (Student)
Professor Ellen Hodnett Mr. John Stewart
Professor Cindy Woodland

Ms Nancy Smart


For the Student Appellant:
Ms. T.D. (the Student)
Mr. Michael Hamilton (Downtown Legal Services)

For the School of Graduate Studies:
Mr. Robert Centa

School of Graduate Studies – appeal of a decision to revoke an offer of admission – material information withheld from admission application – full semester of classes completed – charge under the Code requested but not laid – Faculty decision was admissions decision – no jurisdiction to review admissions decisions – see Graduate Academic Appeals Board Terms of Reference, the Faculty’s Calendar and the Governing Council’s policy regarding appeals within academic divisions – admission irregularities provision of the Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs Application Service – Superior Court jurisdiction to quash University decision – see Mulligan v. Laurentian University – no bar to University reconsidering revocation decision – given delay in revocation of admission and availability of information reconsideration could be justified - appeal dismissed – recommendation that if revocation decision was not modified any fees paid for the completed semester should be returned and any record academic performance should be expunged

Appeal of a decision to revoke and cancel the Student’s offer of admission and/or registration in the Masters of Health Science Program. The Student had withheld material information from her admission application. The Student had been admitted, registered, and completed a full semester. The Faculty requested a charge be laid against the Student under the Code but no charge was laid. The decision to revoke the Student’s “admission and/or registration” was not imposed as a sanction under the Code and therefore, the Student could not appeal the decision under the Code. The Student sought the appeal on the grounds that the Graduate Academic Appeals Board did have jurisdiction to hear the appeal from the revocation decision, and that, irrespective of how the jurisdiction issue was decided, the Graduate Academic Appeals Board should have considered her prior pending appeal against her termination from the Program due to poor academic performance. The Committee found that the Graduate Academic Appeals Board did not err in its finding that the decision of the Faculty “revoking and cancelling” the Student’s “offer of admission and/or registration” was an admissions decision. The Committee considered whether the Graduate Academic Appeals Board and the Committee had a role in the accountability of the University for admission decisions. The Committee considered the Graduate Academic Appeals Board’s Terms of Reference, the Faculty’s Calendar and the Governing Council’s policy regarding appeals within academic divisions and found that the University had not conferred on the Graduate Academic Appeals Board or the Committee the jurisdiction to review an admissions decision. The Student claimed that by relying on the revocation of admission after she had completed a full semester, the University was seeking to terminate the Student in a fashion which deprived her of the procedural protections she would have been afforded had the University relied on its termination of the Student for her poor academic performance, or had the University pursued the allegations against the Student for violation of the Code. The basis for the University’s revocation of the Student’s admission was the admission irregularities provision of the Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs Application Service regarding, the terms and conditions of which the University claimed the Student had agreed to be bound by when she submitted her application through the service. ORPAS did not provide any appeal route for decisions taken by Universities using its application process. The Committee considered the availability of recourse for an aggrieved student and found that while no appeal route had been established from admissions decisions through internal mechanisms, the Superior Court has jurisdiction to quash a decision of the University, and remit the matter back to the University for a fresh decision or compel the University to take appropriate action, as confirmed in Mulligan v. Laurentian University. The Committee observed that pursuing remedies through a judicial review may be costlier and more complex than appeals through internal mechanisms. The Committee found that there was no internal impediments to the University exercising discretion either to proceed under the Code or to revoke admissions where the conduct underlying the revocation of admission could have been treated as an academic matter or as an academic offence. The Committee observed that there was no bar to the University making available an opportunity for a reconsideration of the revocation decision although such a reconsideration process would not lead to any remedies which would bind the University. The Committee observed that if the University did allow for a reconsideration of its revocation decision, it could also have the effect of reviving the appeal of the termination decision. The Committee observed that there may be advantages in approaching such revocations of admission on a case by case basis and that delay might be a relevant consideration in the exercise of such discretion. The Committee found that, given the delay in the revocation of admission and the fact that the University possessed the same information about the Student at the time of admission as it raised subsequently as grounds for the revocation of her admission, such a procedure could be justified. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that if the revocation decision was not modified, the University should return any fees paid by the Student for the semester she completed and expunge any record of the Student’s academic performance in the semester.

FILE: Report #333
DATE: May 15, 2009
PARTIES: Mr. A. M. (the Student) v. UTSC

Hearing Date(s): April 23, 2009

Committee Members:
Professor Ed Morgan, Chair
Professor Elizabeth Cowper
Professor Michael Marrus
Ms. Anna Okorokov
Ms. Maureen Somerville


For the Student Appellant:
Mr. A.M. (the Student)

For the University of Toronto at Scarborough:
Vice-Dean Professor John Scherk

UTSC – request to write deferred examination – request changed to late withdrawal without academic penalty after Notice of Appeal submitted – no jurisdiction to hear new requests not submitted to the Faculty – submissions restricted to original request – trauma from male pattern baldness – inadequate medical grounds – no evidence of psychological ramifications of condition – no impact on ability to take examination – past Faculty accommodation more than generous – appeal dismissed

Request to write a deferred examination. The Student changed his request after submitting his Notice of Appeal and asked the Committee for late withdrawal without academic penalty. The Student had twice been granted permission to write the deferred examination. The Student reenrolled and passed the course in a subsequent term; he now sought late withdrawal to remove the failing grade from his academic record. The Committee found that it had no authority to hear new requests that had not been submitted to the Faculty and the Student was asked to restrict his submissions to the request to take a deferred examination. The Student submitted a doctor’s note from a medical practitioner in India indicating that he suffered from male pattern baldness. The Committee found that there were inadequate medical grounds for seeking permission to write the deferred exam. The Committee found that despite the Student’s claim that he was traumatized by this condition, no psychological or psychiatric report was submitted, and nothing in the medical file tendered indicated that there were psychological ramifications to his condition. The Committee observed that the Student’ condition did not ordinarily impact on a person’s ability to take an examination in a university course. The Committee considered that the Student had failed on each occasion to show up at the appointed examination time and that the Faculty had been more than generous in accommodating his various requests. Appeal dismissed.

FILE: Report #293
DATE: December 16, 2004
PARTIES: Mr. C., the Appellant v. the Faculty of Pharmacy

Hearing Date(s): November 22, 2004

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Professor Pamela Catton
Ms Françoise Ko
Professor John Furedy
Professor Ian McDonald

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Mr. Paul Holmes

In Attendance:
Mr. C., the Appellant
Ms Brenda Thrush, Registrar, Faculty of Pharmacy
Dean Wayne Hindmarsh, Faculty of Pharmacy

Faculty of Pharmacy – exemption from program requirements – Divisional appeal allowed despite irregularities and failure to follow procedure – financial circumstances considered – no extenuating circumstances related to academic performance – appeal dismissed

Request to proceed to Year 3 of Pharmacy program, despite not having met the academic requirements. Request made on financial grounds unrelated to failing grade. The Faculty Appeals Committee heard the appeal despite not usually considering financial hardship as ground of appeal and despite the Student not having submitted a petition. The Committee found that the Student did not take proactive steps, or seek academic assistance offered by the Division to improve academic performance. Not all available means of financial support had been exhausted. There was no merit to the Student’s allegation of differential treatment. There was no evidence of extenuating circumstances directly related to academic performance. The Committee stated that it does not have the jurisdiction to remove a failing grade due to financial considerations. Appeal dismissed.

FILE: Report #310
DATE: September 29, 2006
PARTIES: The Student Appellant v UTSC

Hearing Date(s): September 1, 2006

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Kate Hilton, Chair
Professor Brian Corman
Professor Glen Jones
Professor Ellen Hodnett
Ms. Johanna Weststar

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Dr. Anthony Gray

In Attendance:
The “Student”
Mr. Roland Luo (Counsel for the Student)
Associate Dean Nick Cheng, UTSC

UTSC – request to re-write final examination – physical illness – poor instruction – additional materials filed following Notice of Appeal – motion to exclude Faculty response denied – evidence submitted did not merit relief based on medical grounds – no jurisdiction to assess quality of instructor – classroom performance of a particular instructor constitute grounds for academic appeal only where a student was differentially disadvantaged – no conclusive evidence that instruction was inadequate – no reason to conclude that instruction had had differential impact – appeal dismissed

Request to re-write the final examination in one course. The Student claimed that she had received poor instruction and that at the time of her final examination she was suffering from nausea and dizziness. The Student’s physical illness was raised for the first time in the Notice of Appeal to the Committee. With the Committee’s permission, the Student filed additional materials in support of her appeal following the original Notice of Appeal. The Student brought a motion to exclude the Faculty’s response to the Student’s additional materials on the grounds that the Faculty had failed to deliver the response within the agreed-upon timelines. The Committee denied the motion on the grounds that all applicable timelines had been complied with and that there was no prejudice to the Student. The Committee considered the Student’s medical certificate and oral evidence with respect to her physical and mental state, and the Faculty’s policy on rewriting a final exam based on medical grounds and found that the evidence submitted did not meet the standard required to merit relief. The Committee noted that neither it, nor the Divisional Appeals Committee, has the jurisdiction to assess the quality of a particular instructor and that allegations concerning the classroom performance of a particular instructor (even if substantiated) would constitute grounds for an academic appeal only in rare situations where a student could demonstrate that he or she was differentially disadvantaged, relative to the other students in the class. The Committee found that that there was no conclusive evidence submitted that the instruction was inadequate and no reason to conclude that the instruction had had a differential impact on the Student relative to her fellow classmates. Appeal dismissed.