Case #539

DATE: August 11, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.H.


Hearing Date(s): February 26, 2009, June 30, 2009

Panel Members:
Ms. Roslyn Tsao, Chair
Professor Andrea Litvack, Faculty Member
Mr. Sadek Ali, Student Member


Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Ms. Julia Wilkes, DLS for the Student

Mr. R. Singh, for the Student


In Attendance:
S.H., the Student
Ms. Lucy Gaspini, Academic Affairs Office, UTM

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of Code – plagiarism and unauthorized aids – sold essays to other students – Agreed Statement of Facts – Student’s statement to the Campus Police – sworn affidavit from a buyer – case delayed for six months due to the lack cooperation from Student – guilty plea – finding of guilt based on agreed statement of facts – Tribunal adjourned for penalty phase – further delay of three months due to Student terminating his counsel – Student’s father’s testimony – receipts for prescriptions for medication; letters confirming employment and volunteer services – adverse finding on character – risk of re-offending – a “seller” in general is not a more significant player but engagement in an on-going enterprise is an aggravating factor – detriment to University as discussed in V.L. (Case No. 440) – Appendix “C” of the Code – evidence of previous offences – no basis to reduce penalty due to general deterrence effect being minimal – need for specific deterrence as Student has not displayed remorse – principle of consistency as discussed in Y. (Case No. 404) – Student completed courses and earned credits he would not have earned if not for the delay – five-year suspension commencing the date of the original hearing; seven-year notation on transcript; report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student sold essays to other students. The evidence included the Student’s statement to the Campus Police admitting that he sold an essay to another student and a sworn affidavit by another student charged with purchasing coursework. The filing of charges was delayed for six months as the Student avoided the attempts by the University to address the allegations. The Student promised to get back to the University and never did. The Student pleaded guilty to the charges. The Panel found the Student guilty of the offences under s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The Tribunal adjourned for one month for the penalty phase to allow the Student to respond to the University’s recommendation for expulsion. At the hearing, the counsel for the Student did not appear as the Student terminated his counsel on the date of or just before the hearing. The Panel allowed an adjournment for the Student to obtain new counsel. At the resumed hearing, the Student’s father testified that it was very important for his sons to finish university and that he had taken his son to religious counseling after learning about his dishonest behaviour. He also testified that his son had started taking medication and had become more attentive and responsible. The Student did not testify but tendered copies of receipts for prescriptions for medication and letters confirming that he tutored for a period of ten months and that he volunteered at a food bank for ten hours. The Panel did not give any weight to the receipts as they did not prove that the Student was actually taking his medication. The Panel made an adverse finding about the character of the Student because of (i) his lack of cooperation and (ii) his failure to apologize or display any remorse despite the guilty plea. The Panel found that the letters did not convincingly support the Student’s submission that he had made attempts to improve himself. The Panel found that the Student failed to demonstrate that there was no risk of re-offending given the lack of apology/remorse, the lack of extenuating circumstances, and that the Student has delayed at all stages. The Panel stated that while a “seller” in general was not a more significant player in the sale/purchase of academic work, engagement in an on-going enterprise was an aggravating factor. The Panel also found that selling of academic work is obviously detrimental to the University as discussed in V.L. (Case No. 440). The Panel found that Appendix “C” of the Code also applied to sellers as well as to buyers. As for deterrence, the Panel stated that the fact that this is a rare case involving a seller and thus having a minimal effect on general deterrence is no basis for reducing penalty. Furthermore, the Panel found that there was a justification for specific deterrence as the Student has not displayed remorse. The Panel took into consideration the Student’s submission that suspension was the more appropriate penalty based on other cases relating to “purchasers” and other plagiarism-type situations and also the principle of consistency acknowledged by the discipline counsel in Y. (Case No. 404). The Panel stated that the Student would not have earned the credits during the six months preceding the hearing if not for the delay. The Panel found that the University was not responsible for the delay. The Panel imposed a five-year suspension commencing the original date of the hearing before the delay; a seven-year notation on the Student’s transcript; and a report be issued to the Provost.