Ombudsman recommends diversity and fairness for academic boards


The 2012-2013 annual report from Ryerson’s ombudsman, is now available online. (Courtesy

A growing number of complaints criticizing the fairness of Ryerson’s academic boards has spawned a pair of recommendations from the school’s ombudsman.

In a report tabled with senate, ombudsman Nora Farrell is calling for more transparency and diversity within the academic integrity and senate academic appeals committees.

The committees preside over plagiarism and grade appeal hearings.

The report says there is an increasing number of students complaining about a delay in receiving responses from the committees with no explanation for the wait.

Students are also concerned about a lack of clarity surrounding who is making decisions and how these decisions are made.

Farrell recommends the university post committee selection criteria on its websites with an explanation of how applications are solicited and assessed.

Though she has “no evidence to indicate that what might appear to be homogenous panels have made unfair decisions or that the hearing process was unfair,” she suggests making a “concerted effort” to fill committees with “a broad range of social demographics, including but not limited to gender, race, mobility, socio-economic and ethnic diversity.”

Of the diversity recommendation, university and senate president Sheldon Levy said, “I would say that all of our committees should be reflective of our community. And you know you can’t be perfect and all, but you work towards it.”

While the ombudsman’s recommendations do not come with deadlines, senate secretary John Turtle said the office “will be working over the coming months” to implement her suggestions.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 5, 2014. 

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