Why we've been in a court battle with UBC for three years

Today, we're going to court with UBC for what is hopefully the last time. Since 2013, we've been fighting with them to release documents related to how they grade broad-based admissions applications. Here's a brief timeline about how all that went down:

2013

Our then-coordinating editor Geoff Lister wrote this article about how UBC reads and grades broad-based admissions. He got some information, but wasn't able to get the exact rubrics, so The Ubyssey submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for those.

The university identified the documents we asked for, but refused to give them to us based on section 17 or the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which deals with economic harm to a public body.

Section 17 of FIPPA (click to enlarge).
Section 17 of FIPPA (click to enlarge). Screenshot via FIPPA

We didn't think that was a good justification, so we asked the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC (OIPC) to review the decision.

2014

We went to mediation with UBC, which failed.

2015

UBC said they were withholding the docs based on the following sections of FIPPA:

  • Section 17(1) [disclosure harmful to the financial or economic interests of a public body], the original ground on which UBC denied the Rubrics
  • Section 3(1)(d) [scope of the Act does not apply to “a record of a question that is to be used on an examination or test”]
  • Section 3(1)(e) — scope of the Act does not apply to “a record containing teaching materials or research information”
  • Section 13 — policy advice or recommendations

The OIPC found that that wasn't good enough, and ordered UBC to disclose the docs. The university refused again and sued the OIPC.

2016

The court will hear arguments today and tomorrow from UBC, the OIPC and The Ubyssey about whether or not to uphold the OIPC’s initial ruling. A decision is expected sometime early in the new year.