Case #725

DATE: December 12, 2013
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. R.C.


Hearing Date(s): September 18, 2013

Panel Members:

Sarah Kraicer, Chair
Bruno Magliocchetti, Faculty Member
Fikir Haile, Student Member


Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Danielle Muise, Student Representative, DLS

In Attendance:
The Student
The Student's father
Eleanor Irwin, Dean's Designate
Christopher Lang, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Sinéad Cutt, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) and s. B.i.1(d) of the Code – unauthorized aids and plagiarism – use and possession of smartphone and lecture notes during examination – use and possession of previous year’s examination and solutions during examination – use of previous year’s online discussion thread when formulating mandatory online discussion contribution – included verbatim and nearly verbatim excerpts of previous year’s online discussion thread without attribution – included verbatim and nearly verbatim excerpts of previous year’s answer key without attribution – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea accepted – Joint Submission on Penalty – one prior offence – brazen and repeated misconduct – Panel concerned that pattern of misconduct will likely continue if Student remains at University – Student was cooperative and expressed remorse – grade assignment of zero in four courses; suspension just over 56-months; notation on transcript just over 56-months; report to Provost for publication

Student charged with three offences under s. B.i.1(d), five offences under s. B.i.1(b) and in the alternative, four offences under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to alleged misconduct in four distinct courses.

Two of the five charges under s. B.i.1(b) related to allegations that the Student used or possessed unauthorized aids during an examination in two different classes. During one exam, the Student had in his possession a bundle of notes and a smart phone. In the other, the Student had in his possession a copy of a previous year’s exam and solutions. Another two of the five charges under s. B.i.1(b) related to allegations that the Student made unauthorized use of Blackboard discussion threads from a prior session of the course when formulating his own mandatory online discussion contributions. These contributions were explicitly intended to reflect the Student’s own work. The final charge under s. B.i.1(b) relates to an allegation that the Student made unauthorized use of a copy of the professor’s answer guide from a prior year that was posted on the internet in order to complete an assignment. Two of the three charges under s. B.i.1(d) related to allegations that the Student included verbatim and nearly verbatim excerpts from a prior session’s Blackboard discussion threads in his own mandatory online discussion contributions without attribution. The third charge under s. B.i.1(d) related to allegations that the Student included verbatim and nearly verbatim excerpts from the professor’s answer key in his own assignment without attribution.

The Student pleaded guilty and the matter proceeded by way of an Agreed Statement of Facts. The Panel accepted the Student’s guilty pleas and the University withdrew the four alternative charges. The parties presented a Joint Submission on Penalty. The Student had been sanctioned for academic misconduct on one prior occasion. The prior offence involved the possession of an unauthorized aid during a final examination and the Student was sanctioned at the Decanal level. The Panel highlighted that the misconduct regarding the use of unauthorized aids was brazen and repeated. The Panel noted that in one instance, the Student used unauthorized aids despite being personally told by the invigilating professor to put them away. The Panel observed that the Student committed misconduct in five courses (the four being considered by the Panel, and the one instance of prior misconduct) and expressed concern that the Student is likely to continue the pattern of misconduct should he continue to be a student at the University. The Panel noted that the Student had been cooperative and had presented a letter that included a genuine expression of remorse and demonstrated a degree of insight. The Panel noted that the information provided as to the nature and timing of potential health difficulties the Student may have was insufficient to mitigate the seriousness of the misconduct at issue. The Panel accepted the joint submission and imposed a final grade of zero in four courses, a suspension just over 56-months, a notation on the Student’s transcript for just over 56-months, and ordered that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.