Getting help

In distress?

If you are currently in distress, please go here:

General advice

If you find yourself struggling to complete the work assigned by the due dates, please talk to me in office hours or privately. I am here to help, (a) because it is my duty and (b) because I actually like helping students. Lest anyone think that all physics professors are scary dragons, breathe easy. In person I work hard to be accessible to my students. Also, I know from hard experience how tough it can be to overcome adversity at university.

The sooner you communicate with me when you are in difficulty, the better the job I can do of assisting you. I have moved minor mountains to accommodate exigent personal circumstances of several students during the past seven academic years while teaching this course, so your likelihood of getting a fair hearing is very good.

If you feel that venturing into my office might be embarrassing, then you are welcome to request a Skype IM appointment (live typing without audio/video) instead. If some other communication channel not mentioned on my contact page would help you better, feel free to propose it to me privately by email.

If something bad happens to you, such as an illness, injury, bereavement or other majorly negative life event, then please reach out and seek help. The student Health and Wellness Centre is a good place to start. Also, when you are able, let me know about the disruption to your studies, in terms of its timeframe and severity, as soon as you can manage. That way, in response I can create sensible arrangements, like make-up work, deadline extensions, private tutoring-style appointments, etc, in conformance with university regulations. The general idea is to assist you in catching up rather than falling behind in your studies.

What to do if you get ill or injured

I just got injured/ill and my work in your course PMU199S is negatively affected. What should I do?

-- Sick and tired.

Dear Sick and Tired,

First and foremost, if you are ill or injured you should not wait to see a medical professional -- go to your family doctor or a doctor at a walk-in clinic, a nurse practitioner, a registered psychologist, or a dentist. This is your first step in healing. Also, take your own notes about your injury/illness, as it progresses, for your own personal records.

Seek assistance from your College Registrar, and any other relevant University support people you feel comfortable approaching. Consult University rule books (on paper and/or on the web) in order to remind yourself of your rights and responsibilities.

When it comes to UofT rules, there are many details, depending on the course and on the student, but the essential principle is the same: medical exceptions must be handled by UofT (and its teachers) in a way that is fair to the individual student and fair to the entire class in which that student is enrolled.

Fairness to the individual student is obviously the right thing to do, so we aim for that goal. However, an individual remedy cannot be stretched to the point of academic implausibility, and it cannot unfairly impact the rest of the class. In particular, this means that certain standards of evidence are applied to ensure that the system is not abused.

Since Ph.D.s are not M.D.s, we cannot judge student requests for medical consideration for missed graded course work without suitable evidence. This is why you must provide the Verification of Student Illness or Injury form, filled out only by a Physician, Surgeon, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Psychologist or Dentist. What matters for your professor is how severely, and for what period, your medical misfortune degraded your ability to do scheduled graded course work.

Private medical details are none of our business - either literally or figuratively! So please do not give out such details either verbally in writing to any of your professors. We do not want to be involved in violating your privacy.

You will notice that the Form linked above concentrates on only the timeline and severity of the illness/injury. The reason for that is that those are the only two factors that matter for the creation of appropriate make-up work and/or altered grade weighting to cover the exceptional circumstances.

I hope you feel better soon. Best wishes for speedy healing! :-)

-- Prof. Peet.