Case #738

DATE: January 15, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v R.A.
Hearing Date(s): October 20, 2014
Panel Members:
John Keefe, Chair
Michael Evans, Faculty Member
Michael Dick, Student Member
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel
The Student
Michelle Neely, Course Instructor
In Attendance:
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
John Britton, Dean’s Designate
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) and s. B.i.3(d) of the Code – unauthorized aids on exam – use of instructor’s computer – use of internet for exam answers – unexplained deletion of answers – other conduct corroborates guilty intent – grade of zero in course; suspension from October 20, 2014 until August 20, 2017; notation on transcript from date of order until August 20, 2017; report to Provost for publication
Student charged with an offence under s. B.i.1(b), and in the alternative, an offense under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to the use of an unauthorized aid during an exam.
The instructor testified by video link that the Student had injured her hand before the exam and was unable to write. The instructor offered her computer for the Student’s use and saved her work at one point. The computer was connected to the internet and the instructor noticed that the Student had an extra screen open. When she approached the Student she noticed that she closed the window and began typing and saved her work. At the end of the exam the Student called over the instructor and informed her that all of the work, save for the Student’s name, had disappeared. The instructor was suspicious and offered the Student the opportunity to take another exam the following day which the Student declined. The instructor found two links in the bowser history related to the exam. She took screenshots of both the browser history and the text of the sites in the history. The instructor further testified that her computer auto-saved every 10 minutes and had saved the Student’s work herself. She could not explain how only the Student’ answers were deleted and not her name and reported the incident to the office of the Dean. The Student suggested that the instructor had created the entries after the exam but the instructor was able to explain how that was not possible. The Panel accepted the instructor’s evidence as credible.
The Student testified regarding her injury and was unable to explain how her exam answers were deleted from the computer. She was unfamiliar with Apple computers and indicated that she was saving regularly. The Panel found her evidence unreasonable and lacking credibility.
The Panel found that the Student used the instructor’s computer to answer test questions and intentionally deleted her exam answers. Although the deletion finding is not necessary for the first count it corroborates a guilty intention rather than accidental conduct. The Panel found the Student guilty of the first charge and the University withdrew the alternative charge.
The University sought a penalty including a grade of zero in the course, a two year suspension from the date of the hearing, a notation on the Student’s transcript for three years, and that the case be reported for publication. The University submitted cases demonstrating that a two year suspension was the ordinary sanction in similar circumstances.
The Panel considered the principles in establishing penalty, including that it was the Student’s first offense, the lack of a good explanation for the activity, and the lack of remorse on the Student’s part. The Panel imposed a grade of zero in the course, a suspension commencing October 20, 2014 until August 20, 2017, a notation on the Student’s transcript from the date of the order until August 20, 2017, and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.