McGill contests expulsion appeal

November 1, 2002

McGill University medical school this week sought to defend itself against allegations that it unfairly expelled a student - only the second expulsion from the Canadian medical school in a decade.

Ali Hashemi, whose combined MBA and medical degree was cut short last November, says he was the victim of prejudice. At a hearing on Monday, the university entered a defence against the claims.

Mr Hashemi came to the university with high grades and top test scores and received several outstanding comments from off-campus advisers for his hospital-based assignments, but he was expelled for failing a course.

The hearing was closed to the public, and neither Mr Hashemi nor anyone from the medical school would comment. But The THES obtained the student grievance, with supporting documents.

The grievance cites incidents that present some staff as insensitive to personal setbacks, including the death of a family member and a post-September 11 racially motivated incident. Mr Hashemi claims that the medical faculty violated its own charter by making decisions without fair regard to a student's interests and by not making any effort to ensure that the exam did not conflict with a student's religious observance.

He alleges that a remedial exam was arbitrarily scheduled at a time when he was committed to a hospital rotation in another city. The exam fell on the first day of Ramadan when, as a Muslim, he was required to fast from dawn to dusk. He took an overnight bus from New York City to attend the oral exam, failed, but was denied the supporting documentation for the examiners' reasons. The school failed to release the original written exam.

Mr Hashemi's relationships with the dean, Abraham Fuks, and the associate dean, Donald Boudreau, became "strained and poisoned", according to the grievance. This followed his election in 1999 as first-year class president, after which he brought several complaints from his fellow classmates. A year later, he was head of the medical student union.

In the statement, Mr Hashemi accepts that there may have been personal differences with the administration but argues that "personality conflicts do not speak to (my) medical competency".

* Montreal's Concordia University has eased a moratorium on campus debate, agreeing to the return of information tables for all campus groups in the public area of its building. But it is still refusing stalls related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue in a moratorium imposed after violence broke out during a visit by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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