DATE: November 18, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.S.D.
HEARING DATE: October 21, 2019
Ms. Cynthia B. Kuehl, Chair
Professor Richard B. Day, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Alice Zhu, Student Panel Member
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
The Student, Self Represented
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
The Student was charged under s. B.i.l (b) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (“Code”) for knowingly using or possessing an unauthorized aid or obtaining unauthorized assistance in connection with a final examination.
The Student’s professor set a closed book examination for the final examination but allowed students to bring in a one double-sided aid sheet. To avoid micro-copying, the professor insisted that the aid sheet be prepared by the student individually. The parameters of what constituted a permissible aid sheet were communicated to the students, including the Student. To accommodate his medical issues, the Student was allowed additional time to write the examination and wrote it in a semi-private carrel. He was initially screened by an invigilator and confirmed in writing that he was not in possession of any other aids. At the end of the examination, the invigilator found on the Student’s carrel a folded piece of paper, containing photocopies of previous problems and their solutions from the Student’s course. This was an inappropriate aid sheet that would not have been allowed in the examination.
The Student was self-represented at this phase of the hearing. The invigilator and the Student gave diverging evidence regarding the aid sheet, which raised issues of credibility. In assessing their evidence, the Panel considered several factors. It found that the invigilator was experienced and who gave clear, convincing and logical evidence. It also noted that his evidence was supported by his contemporaneous notes. It further held that his actions were consistent with the process and procedures expected of an invigilator for an examination. In considering the Student’s evidence, the Panel noted the Student’s own admission regarding his past mistakes and stated that it seemed highly unlikely that another student could have placed the unauthorized aid sheet in the carrel during the examination without detection. Ultimately, the Panel preferred the invigilator’s evidence.
The Panel recognized that the Student does not have to prove that the unauthorized aid sheet was not his because the onus always remains on the University to establish its case on a balance of probabilities. While the Student denied that the unauthorized aid sheet was his, the Panel rejected the Student’s version of events, including his allegation that the invigilator was dishonest in his evidence by saying he found the unauthorized aid sheet on his desk. The Panel found that the Student ought to have known that he possessed the unauthorized aid sheet.
The Panel found that the University had established the charge on a balance of probabilities, with clear and convincing evidence. The Panel made no finding as to whether the Student attempted to or used the unauthorized aid sheet during the examination.