Case #718

DATE: February 25, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v O.K.
Hearing Date(s): November 8, 2013 & January 24, 2014
Panel Members:
Julie Rosenthal, Chair
Markus Bussmann, Faculty Member
Adel Boulazreg, Student Member
Appearances:
Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Janet Poole, Course Instructor
Sara Osenton, Graduate Student
Lisa Smith, Academic Integrity Officer
Don Dewees, Dean’s Designate
In Attendance:
Sinead Cutt, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(d), and s. B.i.3(d) of the Code – plagiarism – unauthorized aid –partial admission of guilt – work misrepresented as Student’s own not plagiarism when taken with permission – grade of zero in course; five-year suspension; notation on transcript until graduation; report to Provost for publication
The Student did not attend the hearing but the Panel accepted several affidavits that the Student had been notified, by email and post, in accordance with the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the University Tribunal. The Panel proceeded after a fifteen minute wait.
Student charged with three offences under s. B.i.1(b), three offences under s. B.i.1(d), and in the alternative, four offences under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to four acts in one class.
The first set of charges related to an assignment on class readings. The instructor testified that she was notified by an assistant that the Student’s paper was very similar to a scholarly article, and upon further research by the instructor, another article was found with virtually identical sentences. The second set related to a make-up quiz the Student took with a graduate student supervising. The supervisor testified that she saw the Student trying to hide something under her paper. When the supervisor reached for her paper, the Student pulled them away. The supervisor testified there was another smaller paper with text in a very small font on the paper. The third and fourth sets related to a draft and final draft of an essay the Student was required to complete for the class. The instructor was suspicious of the Student’s paper as it was not to be a research paper and the Student discussed ideas that had not been mentioned in class. Further, the writing styles of the Student’s paper and the in class work were markedly different. Finally, the author of the paper in Microsoft Word was not the Student, it was a man who shared the name of a professional essay writer.
The Student met with the Dean’s Designate and the course instructor where she admitted to plagiarism on the first charge. Regarding the second charge, the Student admitted to typing the notes but claimed she did not intend to use them and lacked intent to cheat. Regarding the third and fourth charges, the Student admitted to having a peer editor help her with her essay and it was clear she did not understand some of the words used in her essay. When the name of the author was brought up the Student initially denied knowing him before admitting that he helped with the paper.
The Panel found the Student guilty of plagiarism on the first charge as she had represented ideas that were not her own as her own. The Panel also found the Student guilty on the second charge for possessing an unauthorized aid. On the third and fourth charges the Panel did not find enough of a connection between the name of the author and the professional essay drafter to find that the Student had purchased the essay. Further, they did not find that the Student was guilty of plagiarism as she did not take the ideas without permission, and found plagiarism had to have this as an element because the definition in the Code contained the word “purloining”. The Panel did find the Student guilty of using unauthorized aid on the third and fourth charges and the alternative charges were dropped.
The Panel considered the penalty factors from the Mr. C case, considering the Student’s partial admission and high likelihood for repetition. The Panel also noted the seriousness of the offence, need for deterrence, and detriment to the University. The Panel considered like cases with a prior offence and found the penalties to range from four to five year suspensions.
The Panel ordered a penalty of a zero in the courses in question, a suspension of five years, a notation be placed on her academic records until graduation, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.
NOTE: This case was appealed by the Student (2015-2016); the appeal was denied.