DATE: April 22, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.W.
HEARING DATE: February 10, 2021, via Zoom
Mr. Michael Hines, Chair
Dr. Pascal van Lieshout, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Emily Hawes, Student Panel Member
Mr. Robert Centa, 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 degree certificate purportedly issued by the University in an attempt to obtain employment.
Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. The hearing took place based on an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) signed by the Student and Assistance Discipline Counsel. In the ASF, the Student acknowledged that he received a copy of the charges and pled guilty to the charge. The ASF further confirmed that the Student did not wish to participate in the proceedings and requested that the Tribunal proceed in his absence. The Student waived their right to any further notice of the proceedings and acknowledged that he understood that the Tribunal may find that he committed an act, or acts, of misconduct and may impose sanctions in accordance with the Code.
The Panel reviewed the facts outlined in the ASF and determined that the Student admitted that, as part of an application for employment, he represented that he had graduated from the University of Toronto when, in fact, he had not returned to his studies after being suspended for poor academic performance. Furthermore, the Student admitted that he paid $40,000 for the forged degree certificate. A third-party verification service attempted to confirm that the University awarded the Student a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and the University advised that no such degree had been granted to the Student. The Student, therefore, knowingly circulated a forged degree certificate in an attempt to confirm his graduation from the University of Toronto. Based on the ASF, the Panel found the Student guilty of an offence under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code.
The University submitted that this offence demonstrates the most serious lack of academic and personal integrity, and it threatens the reputation of the University and other students who pursue their degrees honestly and diligently. The University sought a penalty that would include a recommendation that the Student be expelled from the University. The Panel agreed with the gravity of the offence and the need to impose the most severe penalty. The Panel accepted the University’s recommendation on sanction and imposed the following sanctions: a five-year suspension; recommendation to the President that the Student be expelled, as per s. C.ii(b)(i) of the Code; and a report to the Provost for a publication.