Ultra Vires


Open letter to Dean Iacobucci re: SLS request for household income data

We, the undersigned, were present at the October 21, 2015 Faculty Council discussion on tuition and financial aid at which you expressed a commitment that “this is not an adversarial process.” In that spirit of collaboration, we write to echo and reaffirm the Students’ Law Society (SLS) request that the Faculty of Law administration both release and collect more data on the family income levels of its students.

We firmly believe, like concerned students before us, that shared data is essential for our shared commitment to financial accessibility and socioeconomic diversity.

First, we request that you release the parental income data for the portion of the class who applies for financial aid, dating from 2015 back to the last disclosure of this information in 2003.

Second, we request that you task a committee this year with finding a method for collecting parental income data for the portion of the class that does not apply for financial aid.

The first request is straightforward because the Financial Aid Office already has the data. As such, we echo the SLS request that this data be released by the next Faculty Council meeting on November 25, 2015. We share your concern that outlier years not be interpreted to show trends. This is why the SLS asked for all twelve years dating back to the last disclosure in 2003.

We understand that the second request requires more effort because it involves collecting data that the school does not currently collect. That is why we agree with the SLS that it would be appropriate to task a committee with determining the best way to begin collecting this data.

We understand that the school currently uses the median income in postal areas for each student’s “permanent address” as a proxy for the actual income of the half of the class who do not apply for financial aid. We appreciate the explanation from you, Professor Alarie, and Professor Niblett on this methodology and on its use in the 2013 report on The Accessibility and Diversity of Enrolment in the JD Program and the Career Choices of JD Graduates of the Faculty of Law, 1999-2012.

We assure you that we understand both the methodology, and that the postal area data has been compared with the parental income data that the school does have. We remain unconvinced that this is sufficient.

However strong this methodology may be for estimating data that cannot be collected, the data students have been asking for can be collected. No good reason has been provided for the Faculty to use a proxy when it could collect actual data instead.

Lastly, you said you were “more worried” about the data moving forward, than the data the SLS was asking for. You expressed great concern that the trend could go in a negative direction, and suggested that we should all be focused on that potential problem

We share your concern for the future, but that is one reason we need this data now.

If we do not know exactly where we are and have been, then we cannot measure our success in the years to come.

We firmly believe that it is always better to have data than not to have it.

Kindest Regards,

Ramz Aziz, Sarah Bittman, Daniel Carens-Nedelsky, Peter Entecott, Matt Howe, Brett Hughes, Padraigin Murphy, Maia Rotman, Willow Petersen

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