Case #635

DATE: February 8, 2012
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. T.S.


Hearing Date(s): December 19, 2011

Panel Members:
Ms. Lisa Brownstone, Chair
Prof. Chris Koenig-Woodyard, Faculty Member

Ms. Susan Mazzatto, Student Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Prof. John Carter

Prof. Timothy Bender

Prof. Yury Lawryshyn


In Attendance:
Ms. Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) of Code – unauthorized aids – possessed unauthorized notes during exams in two courses – hearing not attended – reasonable notice must include a warning – Student had engaged in correspondence from his University email address – reasonable notice provided – Student claimed that he felt that notes were allowed; he did not go to classes or read online announcements – students are responsible for ensuring compliance with course requirements; cannot claim ignorance as defence – Student ought reasonably to have known – finding of guilt – consideration of the facts and precedents – importance of general deterrence – grade assignment of zero for courses; three-year suspension; four-year notation on transcript; report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student knowingly possessed unauthorized notes during a midterm test in one course and during a final exam in another course. In both instances, the Student claimed that he did not know that he was not allowed to have the notes. The Student did not attend the hearing. The Panel proceeded to consider whether reasonable notice had been provided. The Panel stated that the reasonable notice must include a warning to the Student that if he does not attend the hearing, the Tribunal may proceed in his absence and the Student will not be entitled to any further notice in the proceeding. In this case, the Student had been in correspondence with the University for a period of three months until two months before the hearing. The Student had responded to the Provost by email after the Provost sent emails advising the Student “If I do not hear back from you, I will ask the Governing Council to set this matter down for hearing in October or November” and again “As I have not heard back from you, the Provost will set this matter down for hearing.” As such, the Panel held that reasonable notice had been provided, considering the University’s clearly set policy of expecting students to regularly monitor and retrieve mail as well as the fact the Student was engaging in correspondence from his University email address about the hearing. The Panel next proceeded to consider whether the University had met the burden of proof in proving the charges. The Student’s course instructor testified that he made online and in-class announcements as well as an announcement on the day of the exam regarding unauthorized aids. However, the Student claimed that he felt that that he was permitted to have his notes and thought that the instructor had said on the first day that the notes were permitted. He also stated that he did not go to classes or read online announcements. In response to the Student’s claim, the Panel stated that the Student must take responsibility for becoming aware of and ensuring compliance with course requirements and that the Student cannot claim ignorance as a defence when failed to comply with the rules. The Panel found that in both instances, the Student ought reasonably to have known that the aids were not allowed as there were numerous warnings throughout. The Panel found the Student guilty under s. B.i.1(b). The Panel considered the facts of the case and the precedents referred to by the University and found the proposed penalty to be appropriate. The Panel noted the importance of general deterrence. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in both courses; a three-year suspension; a four-year notation on the Student’s transcript; and a report be issued to the Provost.