Case #568

DATE: November 26, 2009
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. D.W.

Hearing Date(s): September 16, 2009

Panel Members:
Mr. John A. Keefe, Chair
Prof. Graeme Hirst, Faculty Member
Ms. Elena Kuzmin, Student Member

Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University

In Attendance:
Ms. Lucy Gaspini, Academic Affairs Officer, University of Toronto Mississauga

Trial Division – s.B.i.1(d) of Code – plagiarism – course work – Student did not attend Hearing – agreed statement of facts – joint submission on penalty – joint book of documents – Student acknowledged receipt of reasonable notice – Student advised to obtain legal advice finding of guilt –– sentencing factors in Mr. C – seriousness of offence – no mitigating factors or extenuating circumstances – need for proportionality and consistency in sentencing – principle for accepting or rejecting a joint submission on penalty in The University of Toronto and Mr. S.M and R. v. Michael Tsicos – range of sanctions for plagiarism is from two years for first time offences to three years or more for subsequent offences according to The University of Toronto and Mr. S.B. – Joint Submission on Penalty accepted -- University submission on penalty accepted – Tribunal ordered: a grade of zero in the course; a three and a half year suspension; a four year notation; and a report to the Provost

The Student was charged under section B.i.1(d) of the Code. The charge stemmed from an allegation of plagiarizing an essay. The Student did not attend the hearing. The hearing proceeded based on Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF), Joint Book of Documents (JBD), and Joint Submission on Penalty (JSP). The Student acknowledged receiving reasonable notice of the hearing and requested that the hearing proceed in his absence. The Student had been advised to obtain independent legal advice but was unrepresented at the hearing. The Student admitted copying verbatim experts from online sources into his essay and failing to cite them. The Tribunal found that there was a breach of the Code but that it was not at the higher end of the spectrum due to the fact that the Student had shown some independent work. The Tribunal found the Student guilty of the charge. The Tribunal noted that the Student had committed two prior offences for which he was sanctioned. The Tribunal noted the sentencing factors identified in Mr. C (1976). The Panel found that the Student was aware of the seriousness of the offence. The Panel referred to the principles to be applied in accepting or rejecting a JSP noted in The University of Toronto and Mr. S.M and R. v. Michael Tsicos, CAO, Oct. 11, 2006, Docket: C45531, which noted that a joint submission should be accepted unless it is contrary to the public interest or bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Tribunal noted the seriousness of the offence and the detriment to the University as stated in University of Toronto and Mr. S.B. (November 14, 2007). The Tribunal considered The University of Toronto and Mr. M.H.H. and University of Toronto and Mr. S.B, which held that an appropriate minimum penalty for a first time plagiarism offence would be a two year suspension, and a three year or higher suspension would be warranted for subsequent offences. The Tribunal accepted the Joint Submission on Penalty and ordered: a grade of zero in the course; a three and a half year suspension; a four year notation; and a report to the Provost.