Case #606

DATE: February 14, 2012
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. A.L.


Hearing Date(s): December 5, 2011, January 17, 2012

Panel Members:
Mr. Clifford Lax, Chair
Prof. Miriam Diamond, Faculty Member
Mr. Chris Feng, Student Member


Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Mr. Glenroy Bastien, Counsel for the Student
Dr. Eleanor Irwin, Dean's Designate
Dr. Vincent Murphy, Psychologist


In Attendance:
Mr. A.L., the Student
Mr. Deepshika Dutt
Ms. Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Note: Overturned on appeal.

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(a) and s. B.i.3(a) of Code – forged documents – submitted forged transcript to ten employers; claimed to have received scholarship and a study skills success certificate – guilty plea – finding of guilt – Panel rejected that a learning disability can partially justify the misconduct – it had not been proven that expulsion had a greater deterrent effect than a five-year suspension – embarrassment of having to explain formed part of the deterrent effect – statement of remorse relevant but would have been more relevant if it had come at an earlier stage – no prior academic offence – Panel considered CHK and A.K.G. – for students with no prior offence, expulsion was not the only justifiable sanction – Board in A.K.G. imposed a five-year suspension for a similar offence; the student did not attend hearing – a more severe sanction was not justified in this case – Student’s psychologist’s testimony – Student attended the hearing, giving Panel an opportunity to assess his character – five-year suspension; five-year notation on transcript; report to Provost – Panel recommended names of guilty students be disclosed

Student charged under s. B.i.1(a) and s. B.i.3(a) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted his forged transcript to ten employers and falsely claimed to have received an entrance scholarship and a study skills success certificate. The Student pleaded guilty to the charges. The Panel found the Student guilty under s. B.i.1(a) and s. B.i.3(a). The Student submitted that he suffered from a learning disability and met the criteria for ADHD. The Panel rejected that such suffering from a learning disability can partially justify the misconduct as the misconduct was willful and deliberate and displayed none of the traits associated with ADHD or a learning disability. The Panel considered a five-year suspension to be a more appr/opriate sanction even though the University sought expulsion. The Panel found that it was not proven that the deterrent effect of expulsion exceeded that of a five-year suspension: there was no scientific evidence. Also, the embarrassment of having to explain the gap between the end of studies and his graduation would act as a deterrent. In fact, if deterrence is the prime justification for expulsion, then serious sanctions should result in naming the guilty student rather than using initials to grant the student anonymity as the practice would reduce the effectiveness of deterrence. The Panel found the statement of remorse by the Student to be relevant but it would have had a larger effect if it had come at an earlier stage. The factors that the Panel considered in imposing a five-year suspension were (1) the Student had not committed any prior offence; (2) even though he submitted the transcript to ten employers, all ten instances were part of one continuing offence; (3) the Student in fact had completed sufficient academic credits to earn a degree; and (4) there was credible evidence that the Student felt significant remorse for his actions and was motivated to learn from his mistake. As for prior decisions, the Panel considered CHK (Case No. 596, 597 & 598) and found that expulsion was not the only justifiable sanction for serious offences without a previous academic offence. The Panel did not consider prior decisions involving joint submissions as joint submissions indicated students’ agreement to the sanction and thus were not useful precedents. The Panel specifically focused on A.K.G. (Case No. 508). In A.K.G., the student submitted his forged transcript to employers but his offence was not discovered until after graduation. He did not attend the hearing, and the Board suspended his degree for five years and entered a permanent notation on his transcript. The Panel stated that if a five-year suspension was an appropriate sanction for A.K.G., a more severe sanction was not justified in this case, in which the Student attended the hearing, giving the Panel an opportunity to assess his character. The Panel accepted the Student’s psychologist’s testimony that the Student described his behaviour as a “significant lapse in judgment,” these charges acted “as a huge wake-up call,” and that he had learned from his mistake. The Panel imposed a five-year suspension; a five-year notation; and a report be issued to the Provost. Finally, the Panel reiterated its recommendation that names of students who were suspended or expelled be disclosed.