Case #781

DATE: January 26, 2017

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. J.P. ("the Student")

Hearing Date(s): November 10, 2016

Panel Members:
Ms. Sana Halwani, Barrister and Solicitor, Gilbert's LLP, Chair
Professor Katherine Larson, Department of English, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Alanis Ortiz Espinoza, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University, Paliare Roland Barristers
J.P., the Student

In Attendance:
Professor Luc de Nil, Vice Dean, Students, School of Graduate Studies
Ms. Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Mr. Sean Lourim, Technology Assistant, Office of the Governing Council
Ms. Andrea Rico Wolf, Barrister and Solicitor, Gilbert's LLP (notetaker)
Mr. Seumas Woods (Observer, New University Tribunal Chair)

Trial Division - s. B.i.1(f) of Code - concoction - student falsified data for thesis project - guilty plea - agreed statement of fact - joint submission on penalty - zero on thesis, five year suspension, expulsion, permanent notation

The Student was charged with one offence of concoction under s. B.i.1(f) of the Code, and alternatively, academic dishonesty under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to falsified research data presented as part of the Student's Master's thesis, which the Student admitted to knowingly manipulating, altering and falsifying.

The Student pled guilty to the concoction charge. The University then withdrew the academic dishonesty charge.

An Agreed Statement of Facts and Joint Submission on Penalty was submitted by the Student and the University, agreeing to a grade of zero on the Student's thesis, suspension for five years, a permanent notation and a recommendation for expulsion.

The Tribunal held that a Joint Submission on Penalty should only be rejected when the proposed penalty is unreasonable, unconscionable, or would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Tribunal accepted the submission.

In reviewing the criteria relevant to sentencing, the Tribunal took into account the dishonesty of the offence, the importance of integrity in a research program, that the Student knew the data would be used for publication and that this risked the reputation of their supervisor and the University, that the supervisor was in fact harmed as a result of the offence, that the Student took additional steps to cover up the lie when later questioned, did not admit wrong-doing at the Dean's meeting. The Tribunal also considered the mitigating factors that the Student pled guilty at the hearing and co-operated with the University in an Agreed Statement of Facts and Joint Submission on Penalty. There were no extenuating circumstances. The Tribunal found that accepting the Joint Submission on Penalty would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute, and noted that this was an extremely serious offence that went to the heart of academic integrity and the reputation of the University.