Case #657

DATE: September 11, 2012
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. the Student


Hearing Date(s): August 23, 2012

Panel Members:
Ms. Roslyn Tsao, Chair
Prof. Ato Quayson, Faculty Member
Mr. Blake Chapman, Student Member


Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Ms. Mary Phan, DLS for the Student


In Attendance:
The Student
Dr. Kristi Gourlay, Manager of Office of Academic Integrity, Faculty of Arts and Science

Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(f) of Code – plagiarism and concoction – passages from essay taken verbatim from sources not properly attributed and references concocted to disguise plagiarism – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – finding of guilt – Joint Submission on Penalty – Panel stated it was disinclined to accept JSP and invited Parties for further submissions for the following reasons: (1) Student had committed two earlier plagiarism offences, the latest disposed only a month ago; (2) the Dean’s designate had suspended the commencement of suspension to save Student from losing the rest of the term; and (3) without a JSP, Panel would have considered expulsion – Parties cited Tsicos: high threshold for rejecting a JSP – Panel considered extending the period of notation but “tinkering” with JSP would be difficult to reconcile with the Tsicos test – Panel reluctantly accepted JSP – grade assignment of zero for course; five-year suspension; the later of either a six-year notation on transcript or until graduation; report to Provost


Student charged under s.B.i.1 (d) and s.B.i.1 (f) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted an essay containing passages taken verbatim from unattributed sources and concoted references to disguise plagiarism. The Student pleaded guilty to the charges and the Panel found the Student guilty under s. B.i.1 (d) and s. B.i.1 (f). The Parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”). In considering the JSP, the Panel invited the Parties for further submissions, stating that it was disinclined to accept the JSP for the following reasons: (1) the Panel was troubled by the prior findings of guilt for the same offence and in particular, the second offence committed only a month before the current offence; (2) the Student was able to complete other courses because the Dean’s designate had kindly deferred the commencement of suspension for the second offence to allow the Student to complete the term; and (3) without a JSP, the Panel would be inclined to consider expulsion. After hearing further submissions, the Panel reluctantly accepted the JSP. In further submissions, both Parties cited Tsicos which endorsed the principle that a JSP ought not to be rejected unless the requested penalty “would be contrary to the public interest or bring the administration of justice into disrepute”. The Panel considered extending the period of notation but stated that “tinkering” with the terms of a JSP would be difficult to reconcile with the test in Tsicos. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero for the course; a five-year suspension; the later of either a six-year notation on transcipt or until graduation; and report be issued to the Provost.