Case #404

DATE: May 15, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Ms. J.H.(L.) Y.


Hearing Date(s): July 25, 2007

Panel Members:
Raj Anand, Chair
Professor Sarah King, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Melany Bleue, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer,Assitant Discipline Counsel for the University
Dr. Kristi Goulay, Manager, Office of Student Academic Integrity
Mr. Mike Hamilton, Representative for the Student
Ms. J.L.Y., the Student

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) of Code – plagiarism – essay purchased on internet – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – Joint Submission on Penalty – second academic offence – repetitive nature of behaviour - cooperation with discipline process – expulsion not always imposed despite Code – representational act crucial to commission of plagiarism – files for students sanctioned at decanal level not expunged upon expiry of notation sanction – sentencing principle – see R. v. Cerasuolo – Joint Submissions on Penalty judged on ‘acceptable range’ criterion – character evidence – Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – grade assignment of zero for course; three-year suspension; three-year notation on transcript; and report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), and alternatively, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted a plagiarized paper purchased on the internet. The matter proceeded on an Agreed Statement of Facts and Joint Submission on Penalty. The Student pleaded guilty to the charge under s. B.i.1(d). The Panel accepted the Student’s guilty plea and made the finding of guilt. The Student had committed a prior plagiarism offence. The University contrasted the repetitive nature of the Student’s behaviour with her willingness to cooperate with University officials. The Panel questioned why the University had not sought expulsion for the offence. The University recognized that the Code recommends expulsion for purchased papers but that the principal of consistency must inform the Panel when it imposes sanctions and that the majority of similar cases did not result in expulsion. The Panel questioned why the case was prosecuted as both an instance of essay purchasing and plagiarism, since the Student had not written the paper and, therefore, could not have plagiarized. The University argued that as per s. B.i.1(d) of the Code, it was the representational act that was crucial to the commission of plagiarism. The Panel found that the files for students who had been sanctioned at the decanal level were not expunged once the notation sanction had expired. The Panel considered the sentencing principle enunciated in R. v. Cerasuolo and found that in the context of the Tribunal it was more appropriate to judge Joint Submissions on Penalty in terms of an ‘acceptable range’ criterion. The Panel considered character evidence which revealed that the Student had experienced life difficulties at the time that the offence was committed and that academic improvement had occurred following the time of stress. The Panel found that the Joint Submission on Penalty fell within an acceptable range of sanction. The Panel imposed a three-year suspension; a grade of zero in the course; a notation on the Student’s transcript for three years; and that a report be issued to the Provost.