Case #736

DATE: February 19, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v S.M.
Hearing Date(s): January 9, 2014
Panel Members:
Julie Rosenthal, Chair
Charmaine Williams, Faculty Member
Ching (Lucy) Chau, Student Member
Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Adam Goodman, Counsel for the Student
The Student
In Attendance:
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Luc De Nil, Dean’s Designate
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(f) and s. B.i.3(b) of the Code – concocted sources and material – Masters’ thesis – ASF – Student admitted of his own volition – jurisdiction to hear matter given student not enrolled – JSP – grade of NCR in course; recommendation that Master’s degree be canceled and recalled; permanent notation on transcript; report to Provost for publication
Student charged with an offence under s. B.i.1(f), and in the alternative, an offense under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to fabrication of materials and sources in a thesis paper. The parties entered into an Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF) which included a guilty plea to both charges. The University agreed that if a conviction is entered on the first charge the alternative charge is withdrawn. The salient facts included that the Student submitted a Masters’ thesis which was subsequently published in a peer-reviewed journal. A month later the Student advised the Dean’s Designate much of the data in the thesis was fabricated and the journal was therefore contacted to request the article be withdrawn. The Student also emailed the associate Chair of the Department of Physiology describing his thesis and admitting he had overwritten some cited files to avoid detection.
The Panel considered its jurisdiction as the Student was no longer enrolled in the University, concluding it had jurisdiction as per s. B.i.4 of the Code, as the Student would have been sanctioned had the offense been discovered while he was still enrolled. The Panel found that the Student violated s. B.i.1(f) of the Code and did not consider the second charge.
The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty (JSP) proposing a sanction including a recommendation that the University cancel and recall the Student’s Master’s degree, a grade of NCR in the course in question, a permanent notation on the Student’s transcript, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.
The Panel considered a number of cases including cases dealing with principles in establishing penalty and cases of a similar nature. The Panel noted that it will only depart from a JSP where its acceptance would bring the administration of justice into disrepute and that this was not such a case. The Panel noted the severity of the offence but also that without this admission the entire matter may have gone undetected and that the Student cooperated and expressed deep remorse.
The Panel imposed a penalty including a grade of NCR in the course in question, recommendation that the Student’s Master’s degree be canceled and recalled, a permanent notation on the Student’s transcript, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.