University’s graduate students gain right to appeal

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By Jennifer Kwan 

More than a month after Ryerson opened its doors to the first class of graduate students, the university has established a process for them to appeal their grades.

Last Tuesday, academic council approved the graduate studies academic appeals policy.

But the late arrival of the procedure has left some wondering why policy makers took so long to implement a process for appeals.

The delay was because administrators were assessing what process would best suit the students, said associate v.p. academic Rena Mendelson.

Although the new policy is modeled after Ryerson’s existing three-tier undergraduate appeals policy, it is one step shorter.

Graduates can appeal to their instructor, then the school of graduate studies appeals committee — which will be made up of the chair of the department, faculty representatives and a graduate student — and then to the academic council appeals committee, consisting of faculty and student representatives and the director of student services.

Undergraduates can launch an appeal to a middle tier — the dean of the faculty — as well as at the other levels.

Andrew Noble, RyeSAC’s student issues and advocacy coordinator, thinks the shorter route is unfair to graduate students.

Noble said students should have the option of a middle tier if they want it.

Kathleen Kwan, secretary of academic council said the number of levels in unimportant.

“What’s important is due process,” Kwan said.  “What’s important is the quality of the review.”

Kevin Libin, studying for his master’s in communications and culture, a program run jointly with York University, said graduate students should do fine with the two-tiered process because they are working on personal academic standards higher than those of undergraduates.

“Frankly, I’ve never appeal anything in my life,” Libin said.  “I think it’s a minor issue.”

James Hock, an executive assistant who works closely with an appellants at the University of Toronto’s graduate student’s union, said having fewer appeal options for students is dangerous, especially if personality conflicts between instructors and students are a problem.

“Instructors are usually the problem, but not always,” Hock said.  “It is preferable to have a multi-tier option.”

Mendelson said Ryerson’s new policy will be monitored until it’s reviewed by academic council in October, 2001.

“We need to see how effective [the policy is], what problems arise and if we need to make any changes.”

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