Supplemental Reasons on Penalty to Case# 00-01-04 (2000-2001)
September 19, 2001
University of Toronto v. Ms. C.
May 29, 2001 and August 23, 2001
Professor Patrick Macklem
Supplemental reasons on penalty for the Tribunal case #00-01-04. Student charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(d), and alternatively, two offences under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted a plagiarized take home test and a plagiarized essay in one course. The Panel found that in both assignments the Student had failed to provide proper attribution for words taken from other sources. The Panel found the Student guilty of the charges under s. B.i.1(d) and not guilty to the charges under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code because the Student had not acted with dishonest intent, although the conduct fell within the expanded definition of “knowingly” as defined in the Code. The Panel found that there were unusual and extenuating circumstances, particularly a teaching assistants’ strike and the Student’s academic background and circumstances, but that the issues were more appropriately dealt with in the context of penalty. The Panel considered previous Tribunal decisions involving plagiarism and sentencing principles, and found that none of the cited cases involved a finding of guilt based on the extended definition of “knowingly.” The Panel considered the instruction provided to the Student on plagiarism; the nature of the offence; the fact that the Student believed she had done the assignment properly; the teacher’s assistant strike; and the Student’s academic history and status. The Panel found that the Student did not understand proper citations techniques. The offence was the Student’s first. The Panel found that although the Student did not plead guilty, she did learn from the incident and was unlikely to reoffend. The Panel found that a suspension was not warranted because of the lack of dishonest intent. At the time of the hearing, the Student required a passing mark in the course to graduate. At the onset of the hearing, the Student brought a motion to stay the proceedings on the grounds of undue delay in proceeding with the complaint. The Panel found that the period of delay, while not inordinate, was such that if the Panel ruled in the Student’s favour, she would be unable to graduate within a specified period of time. In rendering its original decision, the Panel ordered that the Student be allowed to enroll in the summer offering of the course, however it failed to address what would happen if the Student chose not to apply to that offering of the course or what grade she was to be given for her work completed in the course when she first took it. The Panel found that if the Student did not apply to the summer offering of the course, then she would have to apply to the fall offering if she wished to complete the course; and that the Student should receive a failing grade in the course, calculated by totaling the marks received for all her course work and assuming she received a zero for the two assignments in question. The Panel found that giving a passing mark in the course was not consistent with its original approach, and that in order to achieve a passing grade the Student would have to complete the fall offering of the course. The Panel imposed that the Student be allowed, pending approval of the course instructor, to complete the course by re-writing the two take home papers within equivalent time deadlines as the original assignments required so that a final mark for the course could be recorded on her transcript in time for her to graduate within the specified period of time, further to s. C.ii.B.1.(b) of the Code; that if permission of the course instructor was not granted, then the Student could apply for late admission to the summer offering of the course, and that if she so applied, that she be granted late admission to the course; that if the Student applied for late admission to the course and it was not feasible for the University to grant such late admission, the final grade in the course was to be recorded on her transcript equal to the average of her course work already completed, excluding the two take home assignments, within time for her to graduate within the specified period of time; that if the Student did not apply to the summer offering of the course, she would have had to apply to the fall offering of the course if she wished to complete the course; that the Student would be given a failing grade of 37.5 for her work in the section of the course at issue; that the Student would receive an oral and written reprimand; a one-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; and that a report be issued to the Provost.