J.J. Bardoel
Silhouette Intern

The case of a former McMaster PhD student, claiming he was not accommodated after suffering a head injury, continues. In 2008, before Jason Tang was about to complete the exams required for his degree, he suffered a serious brain injury, which left him with post-concussion syndrome. The symptoms called for certain accommodations, which Tang claimed were not provided by McMaster.

After proposing an oral examination, a proposal he claimed received positive feedback from numerous members of faculty within McMaster, he was eventually told that he must write the examination format that was designed for all students in that program. Although he claimed that he was offered a longer time period to finish the exam, as well as writing support, he stated that that the sporadic nature of his disability hinders his ability to complete exams.

“I still have the intellectual skills to write the paper,” he said in an interview to CBC Hamilton. “I just can’t predict when I’m able to engage in the work.” This would eventually cause Tang to withdraw from his PhD studies.

ARCH Disability Law Centre, a clinic specializing in cases regarding injustices for the disabled, quickly picked up Tang’s case. Laurie Letheren, an ARCH staff lawyer, hopes that the case will set a precedent for similar cases in the future regarding student discrimination. She told CBC before the initial tribunal meeting, “This is an important case because it will address some of the unique questions that arise for students with disabilities at a graduate level.”

Following the allegations, McMaster released a statement to CBC Hamilton affirming that they will defend against the claims. McMaster University stated that it “is aware of this claim and has worked with the student over the years to identify solutions that provide the accommodations necessary so that he could complete his studies, while ensuring the maintaining of appropriate academic standards.”

The original tribunal meeting was set for July 19, 2013 but with no public decision reached, the case is still ongoing. ARCH Disability Law Centre was contacted and not able to comment.

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