Case #619

Case 619 - Sanction

DATE: February 7, 2012 (Finding), June 20, 2012 (Sanction)
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. O.S.


Hearing Date(s): November 30, 2011 (Guilt), May 9, 2012 (Sanction)

Panel Members:
Ms. Roslyn Tsao, Chair
Prof. Graeme Hirst, Faculty Member
Ms. Vy Nguyen, Student Member


Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Mr. Danny Kastner, Associate, Paliare Roland Barristers
Mr. Edward F. Hung, Counsel for the Student
Ms. O.S., the Student
Ms. Kathrin Herzhoff, Course TA (Guilt)
Prof. Jennifer Tackett, Course Instructor (Guilt)
Prof. John Browne, Dean's Designate (Guilt)


In Attendance:
Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Manager of Office of Academic Integrity
Ms. Amanda Guo, Law Clerk to Mr. Edward F. Hung (Guilt)
Mr. Christopher Lang, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(a) of Code – forged documents – altered a scantron answer sheet submitted for re-grading of mid-term – Student’s explanation was implausible and no other source to attribute the change made – finding of guilt – Panel viewed the misconduct as a lapse in judgment – Student could have taken steps to acknowledge her error in judgment – Specific deterrence goal had been met since Student indicated acceptance and respect of the Panel’s findings – not a case for general deterrence – Panel not bound by precedents to impose a minimum two-year suspension for this type of offence – pleading not guilty is not an aggravating factor in and of itself – grade assignment of zero for course; four-month suspension with an adjusted start date; three-year notation on transcript; report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student altered an answer on her scantron answer sheet and submitted it for re-grading during a review session. The Student denied the allegations. After considering the evidence submitted by both parties, the Panel concluded that the Student’s explanation was suspect and the change made to the scantron could not be attributed to a source other than the Student herself. Only the TA, the course instructor, and the Student had the opportunity to alter the scantron but only student had both the opportunity and the motive. The Panel found the Student guilty under s. B.i.1(a). The Panel, in considering penalty, viewed the Student’s misconduct not just as a deliberate act of academic dishonesty but also as an inexplicable lapse in judgment by the Student. The Student had attempted to reverse her actions by sending an email to her TA, cancelling her request to re-grade the exam. The Panel stated, however, that the Student could have taken steps to acknowledge her error in judgment when the allegations were brought to her attention. The Panel stated the objective of specific deterrence had been achieved as the Student had indicated her acceptance and respect of its findings. As for general deterrence, the Panel agreed with the University that it was a secondary concern in this case. Regarding the appropriate term of suspension, the Panel stated that it had discretion to consider the Student’s personal circumstances and was not bound by precedents to impose a minimum two year suspension for this type of offence. Finally, the Panel stated that while pleading guilty may be a mitigating factor, pleading not guilty by itself is not an aggravating factor. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the course; a four month suspension with an adjusted start date to allow the Student to finish her exchange program; a three-year notation on the Student’s transcript; and a report be issued to the Provost.