Case #479

DATE: June 22, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. L. Y.


Hearing Date(s): December 1, 2008

Panel Members:
Ms. Lisa Brownstone, Chair
Professor Magdy Hassouna, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Jeffrey Clayman, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Ms. Tina Lee, Assistant to Mr. Centa
Professor Scott Graham, Dean's Designate, UTM

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) of Code – unauthorized aids – two examinations – hearing not attended – Student charges not responded to – reasonable notice of hearing – see Statutory Powers Procedure Act – unaware of possession of aid – appearance of cheat sheet and high degree of relevance – unauthorized aid copied into examination booklet – Student knew or ought to have known of possession of unauthorized aid – finding of guilt - prior academic offence – breach of trust evoking at least two year suspension and a suspension of three years or longer for repeat offences – see case of Mr. S.B. – pre–meditation and deceit – timing of offences – failure to engage in process – University submission on penalty accepted – grade assignment of zero in two courses; recommendation that the Student be expelled as per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of Code; and report to Provost

Student charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(b), and alternatively, two offences under ss. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to a deferred final examination during which the Student was alleged to have been in possession of text relevant to the subject matter of the exam, and to a final examination in which the Student was alleged to have been in possession of, and copying from, text relevant to the subject matter of the exam. The Student did not appear at the Hearing. The Panel considered the reasonableness of notice provided to the Student and found the University had taken repeated steps to try and locate the Student, and that the Student had failed to make herself available or to acknowledge the University’s communications. The Panel found that reasonable notice had been provided and that it would be improper to permit a student to avoid facing charges by a failure to respond to the University’s attempts to reach her. The Panel found that adjourning to permit further attempts at service would not be appropriate as the Student had appeared to have moved. The Hearing proceeded without the Student, in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. The Panel heard evidence that with regard to the deferred examination, students were permitted to bring a calculator into the examination room. The exam invigilator testified that inside the Student’s calculator she discovered a piece of paper containing notes. According to the University, the Student agreed that she had had an unauthorized aid but claimed that the note was prepared as a study aid for a previous term test and that by the time of the examination she had forgotten that she had left it in the calculator. With regard to the second examination, students were permitted to bring the course text into the examination room. The course professor testified that he discovered text relevant to the examination in the Student’s course text during the examination. The Panel considered the University’s submissions and evidence and found that on both sets of charges, the University had proven its case on the balance of probabilities and that Student was guilty as alleged under s. B.i.1(b). With respect to the deferred examination, the Panel found that the note appeared to be a cheat sheet as it was written in small writing and folded to fit within the covers of the calculator. The Panel found that the note had a very high degree of relevance to the final examination and that the Student knew or ought to have known that the aid was there. The Panel observed that the Student bore the responsibility for ensuring that she did not bring the unauthorized aid into the examination. With respect to the second examination, the Panel found that contrary to explicit instructions, pre-prepared exam answers were handwritten into the Student’s text book and bore the same headings as the practice questions provided in advance of the examinations and that the same answers where copied word for word into the Student’s examination booklet. The Panel found that the Student knew or ought to have known that she was in possession of an unauthorized aid during the examination. The Student had a prior academic offence for plagiarism. The University claimed that the offences were not concurrent but should be treated as a second and third offence because each offence occurred after a previous offence had been brought to the Student’s attention. In its decision on penalty, the Panel considered the University’s submissions and evidence, as well as the Code and past Tribunal decisions. The Panel agreed with the decision in The University of Toronto v. D.L. and found that students who do not act with honesty undermine the reputation of the University. The Panel considered the decision in The University of Toronto v. Mr. S.B. which found that a breach of trust such a plagiarism and/or concoction should evoke at least a two year suspension for the first offence and a suspension of three years or longer on a subsequent finding. The Panel expressed concern regarding the elements of pre-meditation and deceit in both offences; the timing of the offences; and the failure of the Student to engage in the process or respond to the University’s charges. The Panel found that due to the Student’s failure to participate in the process, it had no evidence of any mitigating factors or prospect of rehabilitation. The Panel accepted the University’s submission on penalty and imposed a grade of zero in the two courses; a recommendation to the President, further to s. C.ii.(b)(i) of the Code, that the Student be expelled from the University; and that a report be issued to the Provost.