To University

FILE: Report #314
DATE: March 9, 2007
PARTIES: The Student Appellant v. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Hearing Date(s): February 20, 2007

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Senior Chair
Professor Jan Angus
Mr. Kristofer Coward
Professor William Gough
Ms Maureen Somerville

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Dr. Anthony Gray

In Attendance:

the Student Appellant

For the Faculty of Arts and Science:
Ms Sari Springer (Counsel)
Ms Elaine Ishibashi, Associate Registrar
Professor Suzanne Stevenson, Acting Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Education and Teaching

Faculty of Arts and Science – late withdrawal without academic penalty – litigation related to family and illness of family members – demands imposed by lawsuit known by drop date – date of Trial not sufficient excuse for default – increased stress from relatives' illness occurred after default – penalty imposed on assignment sufficiently clear and severe – consideration of general policy regarding and approach to late withdrawal without academic penalty in light of University admitting younger students – Committee found that policy should not be revised as a result of this case – minority opinion that policy should be amended and appeal allowed – appeal dismissed – recommendation that University review policy with respect to academic support for younger students

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student failed the course. The Student claimed that she was overwhelmed by time demands arising out of assistance to her father's litigation, and emotional stress as well as time demands arising from the serious illness of her aunt and grandmother. The Student claimed that if the course instructor had been more severe with the lateness penalty imposed on the first assignment handed in late then she would have dropped the course. The Committee considered the Student’s submissions and the University and Committee’s approach to the policy on late withdrawal without academic penalty as described in Report #264. The Committee found that the demands imposed by the lawsuit were known by the Student by the drop date and that the date of the Trial did not provided sufficient excuse for the Student's default with respect to the first three papers. The situation with regard to the aunt and grandmother was known, and while their health had deteriorated, increasing the stress upon the Student, the circumstances occurred after the Student had so severely defaulted in the course that her situation was almost certainly irreparable. The Committee found that the penalty imposed on the first assignment was sufficiently clear and severe so that no reasonable student could have been lulled into a sense of security with respect to the instructor’s approach to time defaults. The Committee considered whether the general policy on late withdrawal without academic penalty should be revisited in order to allow relief to younger first year students. The Committee found that it should not attempt to revise a policy that has been generally applied by so many Academic Appeals Committee panels and by the Divisions. The minority found that the policy should be amended and that relief should be granted. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that the University undertake a review of its policies with respect to the admittance of younger students and to consider whether the University should be more proactive in reaching out to younger students.



FILE: Report #283
DATE: October 16, 2003
PARTIES: Mr. M.N. (the Student) v. UTSC

Hearing Date(s): September 16, 2003

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus R. Scane (Chair)
Mr. M. Ahmad
Professor R. Elliott
Mrs. S. Scace
Professor J. Thiessen

Secretary:
Mr. P. Holmes, Judicial Affairs Officer

Appearances:

For The Student:
Mr. M.N. (the Student)
Mrs. N.

For UTSC:
Associate Dean I. McDonald

UTSC – late withdrawal without academic penalty – alternative request for aegrotat standing – illness effecting exam performance – deficient medical evidence – oral submissions established illness – not debarred from acting on finding of fact due to deficient medical evidence – unfair negative conclusions regarding “the problem of selectivity” – not unreasonable for a student adversely affected by illness to accept favourable examination results nor inconsistent to appeal other unfavourable examination results – requirement for granting aegrotat standing met – appeal allowed – grade of “F” vacated and replaced with grade of AEG – recommendation that the University take a more proactive role in reviewing the submission of medical documentation when accepting petitions

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. Alternatively, the Student requested that aegrotat standing be considered. The Student failed the course after receiving less than 40% of the marks available on the final examination. The Student had passed the examinations in three other courses during the examination period. The Student successfully repeated the course in a subsequent term and requested the remedy in order to improve his GPA and remove the failure from the transcript. The Student claimed that he was suffering from a sore throat and shortness of breath which affected his performance on the examination. The Committee found that while the Student’s medical evidence was deficient, his viva voce submissions did establish that he was ill at the time he was writing his examination, and that the illness had an impact on his abilities during the examination period. The Committee considered whether the deficiencies in the medical evidence should prevent the Committee from acting on its own finding of fact. The Committee found that it would not debar itself from acting on its own finding of fact, because a student may not be successful in persuading the doctor to prepare the evaluation that University regulations contemplate, or may feel reluctant to challenge the sufficiency of what is proffered. The Committee found the Divisional Appeals Committee’s negative conclusions regarding “the problem of selectivity” to be unfair. The Committee stated that it does not believe that a student who was adversely affected by illness during an examination period is unreasonable in accepting a favourable examination result, nor does it believe that such a student is being inconsistent or unreasonable in appealing other examination results which were unfavourable. The Committee found that the requirement for granting aegrotat standing was met. The Student was unable to complete course requirements within a reasonable time because the illness affected the final examination, he could not complete that examination requirement until he was successful on a petition and, once successful, events had made completion of the course unnecessary. Appeal allowed. The Committee ordered that the grade of “F” be vacated and replaced with a grade of AEG. The Committee recommended that the University take a more proactive role in reviewing the submission of medical documentation when accepting petitions.