Case #567

DATE: January 21, 2010
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. C.K.S.L.


Hearing Date(s): November 20, 2009

Panel Members:
Laura Trachuk, Chair
Shakar Meguid, Faculty Member
Sybil Derrible, Student Member


Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Mr. C.K.S.L., the Student


In Attendance:
Berry Smith, Vice-Dean, School of Graduate Studies
Ms. Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances, Office of Governing Council

Trial Division – s.B.i.1(b) of Code – unauthorized assistance – TA assisting three students during a final examination and two terms tests in exchange for money – finding of guilty on eight charges of providing unauthorized assistance – sentencing factors in University of Toronto and Mr. C (1976-77) – little evidence of Student’s character – likely to recommit offence – breach of trust – among the most serious offences – initial denial of offences - length and scope of the scheme – detriment to the University – need for deterrence – students are subject to the Code even if they commit offence while employed as a TA (University of Toronto and A, January 14, 2009) – Panel found the TA had a “corrupt commercial enterprise” with no precedent in the university jurisprudence - University of Toronto and Ms. VWSL (April 6, 2006), which deals with purchased work, used as precedent for the seriousness of TA’s offence - Tribunal imposed a sanction of: 1) a five year suspension, 2) a recommendation of expulsion, and 3) a report to the Provost.

The Student, a PhD student and TA, was charged under section B.i.1(b) of the Code, due to allegations of assisting three students to provide unauthorized assistance with a final examination while the Student was a teaching assistant (charges 1-3) or, alternatively, with assisting the three students to engage in cheating on the final examination under section B.i.3(b) of the Code (charges 4-6). Four days before the hearing the Student was charged with additional charges: 1) under section B.i.1(b) of the Code with assisting the three students to obtain unauthorized assistance during the first term test in a course (charges 7-9); and 2) under section B.i.3(b) of the Code for assisting two of the three students to obtain unauthorized assistance during the second term test in a course (charges 10-11). In the alternative to charges 7-9, the Student was charged with assisting the three students to engage in cheating on the first term test under section B.i.3(b) of the Code (charges 12-14). In the alternative to charges 10 and 11, the Student was charged with assisting two of the three students to engage in cheating under section B.1.3(b) of the Code (charges 15-16). The parties submitted an agreed statement of facts and a joint book of documents. The Student admitted offering to help three students cheat in the course in exchange for $1500 each, that he received $1500 from two of the students and $1400 from one of the students, and that he provided answers to three of the students during the first term tests, to three of the students in the second term test, and to all three of the students during the final examination. The Student denied allegations when he was confronted by the Professor and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and helped the students devise stories to tell at their respective Dean’s meetings, but admitted his offences after being told that the students had signed confessions implicating him in the scheme. At the hearing the Student claimed that he did not offer to help the students cheat in exchange for money, but that they made the offer to him, and that he needed the money in order to provide for his family. The Student plead guilty to charges 1-3 and 7-11. The other charges, which were laid in the alternative, were withdrawn. During sentencing deliberations the Student raised his academic record as a Student, the fact that he would have no further opportunities to commit such offences, and that he would not be able to finish and defend his thesis due to the withdrawal of his thesis supervisor. The Tribunal considered the sentencing factors in The University of Toronto and Mr. C (1976-77). The Tribunal 1) had little evidence of the Student’s character, 2) found that the Student was likely to commit an offence again if he thought he would not get caught, 3) that the nature of the offence was an “extraordinary breach of trust” and that it was the most serious offence a T.A. could commit and among the most serious that a University community member could commit, 4) that there were a few mitigating factors such as remorse and a guilty plea but that there were more aggravating factors such as long denial of the offences, the length and scope of the scheme, and the breach of trust, 5) the detriment to the University occasioned by the offence and 6) the need to deter others from committing a similar offence. The Tribunal found that it was unlikely that the Student could be reformed. The Tribunal rejected the Student’s argument that the penalty should affect his status as a T.A., rather than his status as a student, on the grounds that students retain their status as students and are subject to the Code even if they commit offences while working as TAs (University of Toronto and A, January 14, 2009). The Tribunal noted that there was no precedent in the Tribunal jurisdprudence for the Student’s “corrupt commercial enterprise”, but that the University of Toronto and Ms. VWSL (April 6, 2006), which dealt with purchased work, also described the seriousness of the Student’s offences. Tribunal imposed a sanction of: 1) a five year suspension, 2) a recommendation of expulsion, and 3) a report to the Provost.