University of Alberta Placing Top Student’s Graduation Plans at Risk
Will Teichgraber – Case Description
Will Teichgraber is a dentistry student at the University of Alberta. He is expected to graduate in 2022 upon completing his practicum placement. A professor has described him as one of his best students in terms of clinical efficiency, professionalism, and patient management.
Mr. Teichgraber is unable to receive the COVID vaccines due to his Christian religious beliefs. The University of Alberta granted him a religious exemption, which applied only to University property or buildings. The Alberta Health Services (AHS) implemented the exclusion of all persons who have not received the COVID vaccines
by November 30, 2021 from all AHS facilities, including the dental clinic where Mr. Teichgraber’s practicum placement was to take place.
Mr. Teichgraber could not fulfill his degree requirements without securing an alternate practicum placement, so he approached several private dental clinics that were willing and able to provide the necessary supervision and practical experience. He obtained letters from three dentists confirming that they would supervise him and satisfy any reasonable and legitimate concerns that the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry might have. He also obtained a letter of support from an Assistant Clinical Professor with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. He proposed his placements commence no later than November 15, 2021 to allow enough time for the faculty and the dental clinics to prepare for the placements without jeopardizing his timeline for graduation.
Mr. Teichgraber recognizes that the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is not responsible for the unlawful conduct of AHS and cannot compel AHS to facilitate practicum placements for dentistry students. He simply wants to complete his studies and commence his career. He is an outstanding student and is merely months away from completing his dentistry degree requirements.
The University of Alberta rejected Mr. Teichgraber’s proposed terms of accommodation (finishing his practicum requirements in private clinics). In rejecting the proposal, the University cited a number of administrative burdens, extra costs, and increased liability. The University’s position is that the only possible accommodation is that Mr. Teichgraber delay indefinitely finishing his degree.
Mr. Teichgraber has submitted an appeal of the University’s refusal to accommodate him to the Dean of Students. Liberty Coalition Canada’s Chief Litigator, James S.M. Kitchen is representing Mr. Teichgraber. Liberty Coalition Canada is assisting Mr. Teichgraber with his legal expenses and encourages supporters to donate toward Mr. Teichgraber’s case.