Case #729

DATE: January 20, 2014

PARTIES: University of Toronto v W.N.B.
Hearing Date(s): November 26, 2013
Panel Members:
Dena Varah, Chair
Maria Rozakis-Adcock, Faculty Member
Lucy Chau, Student Member
Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
The Student
In Attendance:
Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic Integrity and Affairs, UTM
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 – purchase and use of course materials from a previous year– submission of assignment with copied answers from report previously submitted – sale of course materials to two students leading to unauthorized assistance in their academic work – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea accepted in part – insufficient evidence to prove one charge of s. B.i.1(d) - one prior incident not rising to level of prior offence because no penalty had been imposed when these offences were committed – family and financial concerns – suggested penalty contested by student but with no alternative – grade of zero in course; suspension five years; recommendation of expulsion; report to Provost for publication
Student charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(d) and two under s. B.i.1(b), and in the alternative, two offenses under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to alleged misconduct in one course, though in separate semesters.
The first set of charges under s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(d), and s. B.i.3(b) (Charges 1, 2, and 3), related to allegations that the Student purchased and used materials from a student previously enrolled in the course. The Student submitted a report having copied answers to three questions from the purchased report. The course syllabus made it clear that it was an academic offence to give or receive unauthorized aid toward completion of course work.
The second set of charges under s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(d), and s. B.i.3(b) (Charges 4, 5, and 6), related to allegations that the Student posted a note on a website indicating that her course materials were for sale. The Student admits to selling the materials, including assignments, reports, tests, the report she purchased, and the report she submitted, to two different students enrolled in the course. One student plead guilty to academic misconduct in use of the materials to complete a report. The second student shared the materials with two other students. They all then collaborated in preparation of their answers to an experiment, admitting they received unauthorized assistance in their academic work.
The Student pleaded guilty and the matter proceeded by way of an Agreed Statement of Facts. The Panel accepted the Student’s guilty pleas to the first charges under s. B.i.1(b), and s. B.i.1(d) and the University withdrew the alternative charge under s. B.i.3(b). The Student also pleaded guilty to the second set of charges under s. B.i.1(b), and s. B.i.1(d), however, the Tribunal noted that the Student had not explicitly pleaded guilty to Charge 5. Discipline Council was not aware if the three students implicated with respect to Charges 4, 5, and 6, had plagiarized the purchased material, only that they pleaded guilty to “use of unauthorized materials.” The Tribunal did not convict on Charge 5 and the University withdrew the second alternative charge under s. B.i.3(b).
Penalty was contested. The Student had been sanctioned for academic misconduct on one prior occasion. The Student had admitted to receiving unauthorized assistance from another student in violation of the Code. In that instance, the student submitted a letter from a Community Safety Case Worker at the University as indication of the Student’s domestic and financial issues. The Student submitted that she initially purchased the material to prepare for a midterm, noting that a student organization sold prior examinations and she did not believe it to be improper. On cross-examination she recanted this claim. Discipline Council submitted a penalty of a final grade of “0” in the course, an immediate 5 year suspension, and recommendation to the Governing Council that the Student be expelled. The Student submitted the penalty was inappropriate but did not submit an alternative. Panel did not find that the prior offence was an aggravating circumstance, as the Student had notice the Professor was investigating her, but penalty for this prior offence had yet to be imposed at the time the Student committed the offences at issue before the Tribunal. Therefore it did not rise to the level of a prior offence. Panel distinguished case from “Purchased Essay Cases” (PEC) as the Student purchased the material with intent to prepare for exams, not with “intention, deliberation and knowing deception” characteristic of PEC. However, the subsequent sale of course materials and the Students’ lack of regard for her fellow students and the University, led the Panel to recommend expulsion over suspension. The Panel imposed a penalty of a final grade of “0” in the course, an immediate suspension of five years, a recommendation to the Governing Council that the Student be expelled, and ordered that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.