DATE: October 20, 2020
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.G.
HEARING DATE: July 20, 2020, via Zoom
Ms. Omo Akintan, Chair
Professor Michael Evans, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Alena Zelinka, Student Panel Member
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Krista Kennedy, Administrative Clerk & Hearing Secretary, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Not in Attendance:
The Student was charged under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that the Student knowingly forged, or in any other way altered, or falsified a document or evidence required by the University of Toronto, or uttered, circulated or made use of such forged, altered or falsified document, namely a University of Toronto transcript. In the alternative, the Student was charged with knowingly engaging in a form of cheating, academic dishonesty or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain academic credit or other academic advantage contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.
Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. Based on the facts and service of the documents, the Panel was satisfied that valid and proper service was effected on the Student pursuant to the University Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Panel proceeded to hear the matter in the absence of the Student. The hearing took place based on an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) accompanied by a Joint Book of Document (“JBD”) signed by the Student and Assistant Discipline Counsel. In the ASF, the Student acknowledged that he received a copy of the charges and admitted to the charges.
Regarding the charge laid under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code, the Panel reviewed the facts outlined in the ASF. The ASF outlined that the University received a request for verification of the Student’s transcript for admission to another Ontario University. The University’s transcript services department reviewed the Student’s ROSI record to compare the Student’s academic record to the purported transcript submitted to the other Ontario University. The Panel noted that the ASF further outlined that a comparison of the transcripts revealed that all but one of the grades on the purported transcript were inflated. In review of the ASF and based on the evidence, including the Student’s admission, the Panel found the Student guilty of circulating and making use of a falsified document contrary to s. B.i.3(a) of the Code. The University withdrew the alternative charge.
The Panel noted that forgery is widely recognized as one of the most serious academic offence and require the most serious sanctions as outlined in University of Toronto v. S.W. (Case No. 947, April 16, 2020). The Panel found that the extent of forgery in this case is particularly egregious since twenty-four of the twenty-five grades on the Student’s forged transcript were inflated and as such did not accurately represent the Student’s actual record. The Panel found that the evidence of forgery in this case is so apparent that the Student’s admission of guilt holds little weight as a mitigating factor. The Panel noted that the Student offered no explanation for his behaviour and no evidence that he is capable of being rehabilitated. Therefore, the Panel further noted that admitting dishonesty when confronted with unequivocal evidence does not excuse the underlying dishonesty nor is it evidence that this behaviour will not be repeated. The Panel found that this type of misconduct deserves a strong denunciation in order to protect the credibility, integrity and reputation of academic institutions and the interest of those who rely on them including the University's students, alumni, faculty as well as employers and society as a whole. Taking all of these factors into consideration and after reviewing the relevant case law, the Panel imposed the following sanctions: a five-year suspension, a recommendation that the Student be expelled, further to s. C.ii.(b)(i) of the Code; a report to the Provost for publication.