Case #690

DATE: September 5, 2013
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.F.


Hearing Date(s): August 6, 2013

Panel Members:

Roslyn Tsao, Chair
Ato Quayson, Faculty Member
Jonathan Hsu, Student Member


Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University

In Attendance:
Kristi Gourlay, Manager, Office of Academic Integrity
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

NOTE: Overturned on appeal

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(a) of the Code – falsified course withdrawal petitions – Agreed Statement of Facts – 2 prior offenses – admission of guilt – Joint Submission on Penalty rejected – grade of zero in 17 courses; recommendation of expulsion; five-year suspension; seven-year notation on transcript; report to Provost for publication

The Student was charged under s. B.i.1(a) of the Code with 22 charges relating to forging, altering, or falsifying of documents or evidence on 7 or 8 submissions for late withdrawal from courses in two academic years. The Student did not attend and the hearing proceeded by way of an Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF).

The ASF set out that in two separate years the Student submitted petitions seeking late withdrawal from 17 courses; 10 in the first year because of a dying grandfather in Sri Lanka and 7 in the second because he was neglectful, self-destructive, and “pretty spaced out”. The second petition was denied and the Student submitted a third petition seeking the same relief as the second petition, this time on account of a grandmother’s death and accompanied by a death certificate. The Student submitted personal statements and a newspaper death notice for his grandmother and responded to emails intended to further mislead the University. The Student admits that his petition forms contained false and misleading information in an attempt to obtain academic advantage.

The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty (JSP) including a grade of a zero in the 17 courses, a suspension from the date of order for five years, a permanent notation be placed on his academic record, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication. The University stressed that the ASF and admission of guilt from the Student saved the significant time and effort of proving the allegations.

The Student had two prior incidents of plagiarism and provided no submissions regarding mitigation. The Panel noted that the Student had likely begun and completed a medical program since submitting his petitions. The Panel felt that the Student had disdain for the ethics of any academic institution, noting that after his first petition was accepted he submitted a second falsified one and his two counts of plagiarism. It shocked the conscience of the Panel that this behaviour could warrant anything less than expulsion. The University presented two similar cases in support of the JSP but the Panel distinguished them based on prior offense history, hearing attendance and mitigating factors.

The Panel rejected the JSP said the proposed penalty would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. It ordered a penalty of a grade of zero in the 17 courses, an immediate five-year suspension, a recommendation of expulsion, a notation placed on his academic record for 7 years, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.