Case #557

DATE: November 3, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. L.O.

Hearing Date(s): August 27, 2009

Panel Members:
Ms. Rodica David, Chair
Prof. Graeme Hirst, Faculty Member
Mr. Sybil J. Derrible, Student Member

Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University

In Attendance:
L.O., the Student

Trial Division – s.B.i.1(d) of Code – plagiarism – course work – Student attended hearing but did not give any evidence – finding of guilt – sentencing principles in Mr. C -- the character of the Student – the likelihood of repetition – the nature of the offence – the extenuating circumstances – Student’s education abroad and length of time spent away from school -- the detriment to the University – general deterrence -- seriousness of offence – Tribunal varied the University’s submission on penalty– Tribunal ordered: a grade of zero in the course; an 18 month suspension; a 3 year transcript notation; and a report to the Provost

The Student was charged under s.B.i.1(d) of Code. The charges related to allegations of plagiarizing an essay submitted for academic credit. The Student attended the Hearing but chose not to give any evidence. The Panel found that there was no evidence that the Student plagiarized knowingly, but that nevertheless there was clear and convincing evidence that the Student ought reasonably to have known that she was plagiarizing. The Professor provided an official University document entitled “A Warning About Plagiarism” to all students in the course. The TA provided a writing tutorial which included instruction on how to avoid plagiarism. The Panel found the Student guilty. The Panel considered the sentencing factors in Mr. C (November 5, 1976), as cited in The University of Toronto and Mr. S.B. The Panel heard that the Student was combative during the process. The Panel noted the seriousness of the offence, although the Panel was not convinced that the Student had actual knowledge of the offence. The Panel noted the extenuating circumstance of the Student’s education abroad, where she claimed the system was different, and the fact that the Student had been out of school for a long time. The Panel noted the detriment to the University and the need for deterrence. The Panel noted the range of established sentences for plagiarism and recognized a two year suspension as the threshold for plagiarism offences as noted in The University of Toronto and A.K.(November 9, 2007). However the Panel did not accept the University’s request for a two year suspension and found that the circumstances warranted a lighter sanction. The Panel imposed: a zero in the course; an 18 month suspension; a 3 year transcript notation; and a report to the Provost.