Case #516

DATE: April 22, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Mr. A.B.


Hearing Date(s): information not available

Panel Members:
Ms. Julie Hannaford, Chair
Professor Marc Lewis, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Alex Kenjeev, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Rob Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Manager, Office of Student Academic Integrity
Mr. max Shapiro, Student Representative, DLS
Mr. A.B., the Student

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and ss. B.i.1(a) of Code – plagiarism and forged documents – course work, Medical Certificate and Accessibility Services Note – guilty plea to charges under s. B.i.1(d) – charges under s.B.i.1(a) denied – third party implicated – explanation of events not supported by evidence – finding of guilt – penalty hearings not attended – high likelihood of repetition of offence and little prospect of rehabilitation – no insight or remorse – grade assignment of zero for course; recommendation that the Student be expelled as per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of Code; and report to Provost – submissions on costs requested – jurisdiction to award costs – see s. C.II.(a)17(b) of the Code – awarding of costs not appropriate in case

The Student was charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(d), and two offences under of s. B.i.1(a) and alternatively, under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to alleged acts of plagiarism contained in two subsequent essays submitted for the same assignment in one course, and the alleged acts of forging or altering a University Medical Certificate and a letter purportedly from the University Accessibility Services, both of which were submitted with the first essay. The Student pleaded guilty to the charges under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code. The Tribunal heard evidence in respect to the remaining charges under s. B.i.1(a) and B.i.3(b) of the Code. The Student did not dispute that the two versions of the essay were plagiarized. The Panel found that the Student’s account of the events had changed over the course of the hearing but that the Student’s proposition was that a third party had altered and submitted the Student’s first essay along with a letter from the University’s Accessibility Services and created a false Medical Certificate, both of which were designed to extend the time for delivery of a paper by the Student. When meeting with the course professor to discuss concerns about the first essay, the Student submitted a second version of the essay which he said should have been originally submitted. After the meeting, the Student submitted a third version of the essay via email, which the Student claimed was the essay that he had intended to submit all along. The Panel found that the Student’s explanation of the events was not supported by the analysis of the USB key on which the paper was composed or by the computer logs at the University library where the Student claimed the paper was composed. The analysis of the USB key demonstrated that the first and second essays underwent significant alterations in order to disguise the existence of plagiarism and that the third essay was not created until after the Student’s meeting with the course professor. The Panel found that the Student submitted plagiarized work, altered an Accessibility Services Note and a Medical Certificate, repeatedly denied doing the acts and implicated other innocent individuals in the acts. The Panel found that the Student was guilty of all the offences for which he was charged. The Student did not attend either of the two penalty hearing scheduled to accommodate him. In reaching its decision, the Panel focused on the fact that there were four acts which gave rise to the conviction, that the four acts all occurred within a short timeframe, that the second plagiarized essay was submitted at a meeting held to discuss plagiarism concerns and that the four acts were part of a pattern. The Panel observed that the intertwined use and abuse of the Accessibility Services by the Student, together with the repeated plagiarism, played a significant role in its consideration of the likelihood of a repetition of an offence by the Student. The Panel observed that when a Student engages in both plagiarism and a misuse of the University policy related to accommodation of students, and when, in addition, the student in defense implicates another student, the need for deterrence becomes important. The Panel found that the Student demonstrated no insight or remorse for the charges he was found, or for which he had pleaded, guilty. The Panel found that there was a high likelihood that the Student would repeat the offence and that there was little to no prospect of rehabilitation. The Panel imposed an assignment of a grade of zero in the course; 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. Submissions as to costs were requested by a member of the Panel. In its submissions on costs, the University submitted that, as per s. C.II.(a)17(b) of the Code, the Panel has jurisdiction to award costs and that the Panel had exercised that jurisdiction recently, but that in the circumstances of the case the University did not request the Panel to do so. The Panel agreed with the University that the awarding of costs was not appropriate in the case.