Case #487

DATE: January 22, 2008
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Ms. Z.B.


Hearing Date(s): September 4, 2007

Panel Members:
Kirby Chown, Co-Chair
James Rini, Faculty Panel Member
Adrian Asselin, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Joy Anne Cohen, Council for the Student

Trial Division - s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(f) of Code - plagiarism – course work and take-home exam – guilty plea to charge under s. B.i.1(d) of Code – Agreed Statement of Facts - Joint Submission on Penalty – decanal sanction for prior plagiarism offence - psychological report - poor time management, overwhelming workload, volunteering at mosque and preparations for arranged marriage - inability to grasp content of offence despite warnings – Joint Submission accepted - two-year suspension; grade assignment of zero for two courses; three-year notation on transcript or until graduation; and report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(f) and alternatively, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student knowingly submitted a plagiarized essay in one course that contained text copied from a source article without citation or attribution, and a plagiarized take-home final examination in another course that contained improperly referenced text copied from the internet. The Student pleaded guilty to the charges under s. B.i.1(d). The Matter proceeded on an Agreed Statement of Facts. The Panel accepted the Student’s plea and entered a verdict of guilty. The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty and a Supplementary Agreed Statement of Facts. The Student had previously been sanctioned at the Decanal level for plagiarism and received guidance on how not to plagiarize. The Student submitted a psychological report that described her as a naive individual who was perplexed by her own behaviour. The Student claimed that her poor time management and overwhelming workload in addition to volunteering at her mosque and her preparations for an arranged marriage contributed to her acts of plagiarism. The parties claimed that the Student had acknowledged her guilt, cooperated with the proceedings, apologized and had learned about what constituted plagiarism. The Panel acknowledged the mitigating circumstances and considered the Student’s psychological assessment. The Panel stated that it was concerned with the Student’s repeated conduct of plagiarism, her inability to understand the offence and the manner in which the Student had plagiarized. The Panel found that the evidence of extenuating circumstances was not compelling. The Panel considered precedent cases and accepted that the suggested penalty was within the range for similar cases. The Panel considered and the parties submissions with respect to the criteria for penalty as described in the case of Mr. C. and accepted the Joint Submission on Penalty. The Panel imposed a two-year suspension; a grade assignment of zero in the two courses; a three-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript (or until graduation, whichever was to occur first); and that a report be issued to the Provost.