Case #721

DATE: October 9, 2014

PARTIES: University of Toronto v T.W.
Hearing Date(s): June 18, 2014 
Panel Members: 
Rodica David, Chair 
Kathi Wilson, Faculty Member 
Blake Chapman, Student Member 
Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel 
Eleanor Irwin, Dean’s Designate, UTS
Jayeeta Sharma, Instructor
Sonja Nikkila, Instructor
In Attendance: 
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – plagiarism – two offences in two classes – Student not at hearing – finding of guilt – zero in courses; three year suspension; four year academic record notation; report to Provost – dissent – issue of notice – insufficient attempt by University to notify Student
The Majority found that the Student received proper notice of the proceedings and the hearing proceeded. The first instructor explained that she had made the students aware of the necessity for and what constitutes academic integrity. Upon examination of three documents uploaded to there is little doubt of plagiarism. The second instructor also testified that she explained the importance of academic integrity and the Student’s essay in the course shows remarkable similarities to five different websites. The Panel found the Student guilty on charges 1 and 3. The Panel considered the penalty factors from the Mr. C case, considering the Student’s lack of participation and remorse in the process, the seriousness of the offence, need for deterrence, and detriment to the University. The Panel stated that had there only been one offence a two-year suspension would have been appropriate but as there were two, the penalty was elevated to a three-year suspension. The Panel ordered a penalty of a zero in both of the courses in question, a suspension of three years from the date of the order, a notation be placed on her academic record for four years, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.
Dissent (on Notice only) - Blake Chapman
The University had not given the Student sufficient notice of the hearing and that the proceedings would continue in her absence. The University tried unsuccessfully to deliver a notice by mail twice to the Student’s listed ROSI address (an address listed, not the Student’s current address). The University also sent an email to the Student’s listed ROSI email but received no response or bounce-back email. However, the University did not take sufficient steps to notify the Student as required by the Code and the Rules of Practice. The onus is on the University to contact the Student, not for the Student to keep current records and it cannot be that students have a lifelong obligation to check their university emails, especially when they have not been registered. Further, there were several alternative options the University could have pursued in attempting to notify the Student, namely a Google or Canada411 search or resending the email and requesting read receipts. At a minimum the hearing should have been postponed to attempt these additional steps. This dissent was only as to the issue of notice.