Case #668

DATE: April 27, 2012
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. P.H.


Hearing Date(s): March 27, 2012

Panel Members:
Mr. Paul Schabas, Chair
Prof. Nick Cheng, Faculty Member

Ms. Amy Gullage, Student Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Ms. Julia Wilkes, Articling Student, Paliare Roland Barristers

Ms. Sierra Robart, DLS

Ms. Camille Labchuk, DLS

Dr. Matthew MacKay, Course Instructor

Mr. Sinisa Colic, Course TA

Mr. P.H., the Student

Mr. Ali Afshar, Student at the University of Toronto

Mr. Armin Ayattolahi, Student at the University of Toronto In Attendance:
Prof. John Carter, Dean's Designate
Mr. Chris Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) of Code – unauthorized aids – midterm contained answers allegedly copied from another student – some similarities between answers submitted by the two students – Student omitted intermediate steps – University only needs to prove the case on a balance of probabilities – evidence only circumstantial – test instructions regarding intermediate steps were ambiguous – charges not brought promptly – testimony from classmates that they did not see Student looking at the other student’s test – Provost failed to prove the charges on a balance of probabilities – charges dismissed

Student charged under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student copied answers from another student during a midterm test. The Student sat next to the other student whom he allegedly copied his answers from. The invigilator testified that he saw the Student’s mouth moving during the exam and told both students not to speak. He, as well as the course instructor, also testified that the two students were sitting closer to each other than other students in the room. When he was marking the exam, he noted similarities between the two tests and also noted that the Student’s answers were lacking intermediate steps. The Student testified that he arrived with the other student and chose the first two available seats and that he did not speak to the other student during the test. He stated that he thought he listed all appropriate intermediate steps. The other student testified that he did not notice anything unusual during the test and that he had not started working on the test question under question when the invigilator warned both of them not to speak. Two of the Student’s classmates who took the test in the same room also testified that they did not notice anything unusual during the test. The Panel stated that although the University need only prove its case on a balance of probabilities, it had failed to do so in this case. The Panel found that there was no direct evidence that the Student cheated on the test – evidence was only circumstantial as no one saw the Student copying answers. The Panel also found the test instruction ambiguous as it said to list “appropriate” intermediate steps. Also, the Panel criticized the University for bringing the charges late, two months after the test. Had the charges been brought promptly, the Student would have been easily able to rebut the charges with the scrap papers he used during the test. Taking all factors into account, the Panel dismissed the charges.