Volume 92, Issue 82

Thursday, March 4, 1999


Budgets may get cut

Less scholarship possibilities

VP-academic under survey

Review board angry over accusations of disability bias

Waterloo helped out corporately

Crisis rallies education support

Survey hopes to gauge USC access

Caught on campus

Review board angry over accusations of disability bias

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

A letter printed in the Feb. 18 issue of Western News has outraged members of the university Senate and the student review board-academic.

The controversy is over accusations made in the letter written by psychology professor and senator Steven Lupker. In the letter Lupker accused the SRBA of "apparently" being influenced by "higher-ups in the administration" and making decisions not based on academic reasons.

At the last Senate meeting Lupker was challenged by Peter Mercer, VP-administration, to reveal who his source was on the SRBA or to retract his accusations. "In the absence of claim, any member of the administration is tarred by that brush."

Still, Lupker refused to reveal his sources or retract his remarks. Lupker added he did not get a response when he asked the person as to who in administration they were referring to.

He said his letter was based on information he received in calls from two separate members of the SRBA regarding a decision made last year to rule in favour of a female student with a learning disability in one of Lupker's courses.

Lupker's accusations also impact on Services for Students with Disabilities in the Student Development Centre, which he claims encourages the student to appeal knowing they will find someone on the board to rule in their favour.

He added he believes the pressure from the administration might be caused by legal fears. "It is quite possible, if we don't make a decision in a certain way."

Mercer explained the deliberations of the SRBA are confidential. "One of my concerns was that a member of the SRBA had spoken about its deliberations outside the tribunal itself," he said.

Michael Atkinson, a psychology professor and chair of the SRBA, said he was outraged by Lupker's comments, calling them "unfounded." The fact that these claims were made in a letter appearing in Western News also concerned Atkinson.

He added he is not aware of an incident, such as the one described by Lupker, occurring in the SRBA. "It has been my experience that members vote their conscience."

While Lupker said he believes this issue has been closed, Atkinson disagrees. "I don't think that this is the end of it," Atkinson said, adding as chair of the SRBA he would like to know of any bias within the board.

Every student has the right to appeal an academic decision to the SRBA, said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council, who also sits on the SRBA. Iozzo said he believes the board is impartial.

"It is my hope that committee members strive for confidentiality and impartiality," he added.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999