DATE: September 29, 2020
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. X.T. (“the Student”)
HEARING DATES: July 6, 2020, via Zoom
Ms. Erin Dann, Chair
Professor Margaret MacNeill, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Alena Zelinka, Student Panel Member
Mr. Robert A. Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Not in Attendance:
Ms. Krista Kennedy, Hearings Secretary, Office of the Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances, University of Toronto
The Student was charged under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) for knowingly altering or falsifying a document or evidence required by the University of Toronto, or uttering, circulating or making use of any such altered or falsified document, namely, a University of Toronto Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form, which he submitted in support of his petition for a late withdrawal from a course. Alternatively, the University charged the Student under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.
Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. The University provided evidence setting out the measures taken regarding service. Based on that evidence and relying on ss. 6 and 7 of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, Rules 9 and 17 of the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure and the University’s Policy on Official Correspondence with Students, the Panel was satisfied that the University had given reasonable notice of the hearing to the Student. The Panel proceeded to hear the case on its merits in the absence of the Student.
The Tribunal found the Student guilty under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code because the evidence established that the doctor identified on the form had not completed, signed or stamped the form. The Panel noted the following: (1) that the business stamp on the form contained the same error in the postal code as on a stamp previously affixed to a fraudulent form; (2) that the doctor’s office confirmed that the Student was not his patient; and (3) that the doctor’s authentic stamp differed from the stamp affixed to the form submitted by the Student. According to the Panel, the Student’s claim that the doctor had met him in the lobby of a hospital and was prepared to complete the form in December 2019 in respect of a prior visit, without performing any physical examination, was not credible. Given the Panel’s finding, the University withdrew the alternative charge under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.
In determining the sanction, the Panel took into account the following factors: (1) there was no evidence before the Tribunal regarding the Student’s character other than the facts relating to this offence; (2) the Student did not have a prior record of academic offences and the offence appeared to be an isolated incident; (3) the University is unable to verify every medical note submitted by students and it must be able to trust that the students are submitting legitimate documentation in support of accommodation and late withdrawal requests; (4) the Student had expressed feeling significant stress and anxiety about the delay in his studies caused by his suspension; (5) the University’s concerns that the Student’s conduct implicated medical professionals and undermined the integrity of those charged with providing those medical notes, as well as the University’s procedure for assessing and granting accommodations to its students; (6) the University and the Tribunal must send a strong message to other students that such misconduct is considered a serious offence.
The Tribunal imposed the following sanctions: grade assignment of zero for course; two-year suspension; three-year notation on the Student’s transcript; report to Provost of the decision and sanctions imposed, with the Student’s name withheld.