July 27, 2006
University of Toronto v. C.Z.
March 30, 2006
Patricia D.S. Jackson, Senior-Chair
Ms. Lily Harmer, for the University of Toronto
Jennifer Kotz, for the Student
Appeal by the University from a Tribunal decision in which the Student was found guilty of plagiarizing large portions of a submitted essay, contrary to s. B.i.1(d) of the Code. The Hearing Panel found that the Student had been haphazard in text citation method and submitted the paper in good faith and without any intention to portray the work of someone else but that he ought reasonably have known that he was committing an academic offence. Prior to the delivery of any notice of appeal, the University permitted the Student to graduate. The University claimed that the decision to allow the Student to graduate was made without adverting to s. C.i.(a)12 of the Code. The University appealed the sanction portion of the decision respecting the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, under s. C.ii(b) of the Code, to impose three of the sanctions ordered; that the sanctions did not reflect the nature of the offence; and that the sanctions were inconsistent with those imposed in previous decisions involving plagiarism. The Board considered s. C.i.(a)12 of the Code and asked the parties to address the question of whether, since the Student had graduated, the decision of the Tribunal had not necessarily become the final disposition of the accusation. The Board found that as a result of the Student’s graduation and the provisions of s. C.i.(a)12 of the Code, it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. The Board found that the provisions of s. B.1.4 of the Code did not detract from the conclusion articulated in s. C.i.(a)12 of the Code. The Board agreed with the Student’s position that s. B.1.4 of the Code applied in circumstances in which the offence was not detected until after the Student had graduated. The Board found that the University sought the imposition of a penalty which was inconsistent with having allowed the Student to graduate and which was moot in light of that graduation. The Board found that the appropriate method to address any possible policy concerns that would justify allowing the University to permit a student to graduate without precluding an appeal with respect to conviction was by amendment of the Code, which did not permit an appeal in such circumstances. The Board observed that it was in agreement with the University’s position on the seriousness of the offence of plagiarism. The Board stated that the difficulty of identifying plagiarism was a reason why sanctions imposed should reflect the seriousness of the offence and operate as a deterrent, both to intentional plagiarism and plagiarism resulting from reckless indifference to accepted citation standards. The Board stated that if it had the jurisdiction to do so, it would have allowed the appeal and imposed a more serious sanction drawn from the provisions of s. C.ii(b) of the Code. The Board quashed the appeal.