Case #786

DATE: March 24, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v S.H.L.
Hearing Date(s): December 4, 2015 and January 15, 2016
Panel Members:
Sana Halwani, Chair
Chris Koenig-Woodyward, Faculty Member
Alice Zhu, Student Member
Appearances:
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Tegan O’Brien, Counsel for Mr. S.J.P.
Lawrence Veregin, Counsel for Mr. S.J.P.
Rabiya Mansoor, Counsel for Mr. S.J.P.
Steve Joordens, Professor of the Course
Ada Le, Invigilator for the Final Exam in the Course
Ainsley Lawson, Undergraduate Course Coordinator, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
Wayne Dowler, Dean’s Designate, University of Toronto Scarborough
Emily Dies, Law Student, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Kinson Leung, Invigilator for the Final Exam in the Course
In Attendance:
Hayley Ossip, Articling Student, Gilbert’s LLP
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Tracey Gameiro, Observer
Nisha Panchal, Observer, Student Conduct & Academic Integrity Officer
Mr. S.J.P., the suspected collaborator
Mr. S.H.L., the Student
NOTE: Heard together with Case #785
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(a), s. B.i.3(b) of the Code – unauthorized aid, forged documents, and academic dishonesty – obtained an unauthorized aid for a final exam while on a bathroom break – destroyed the aid after it was discovered – denied having the aid – initial hearing not attended – Student claimed he was ill and, though skeptical, the Panel accepted this and adjourned the initial hearing – later hearings attended – finding on evidence – not necessary to determine how the Student obtained the unauthorized aid – non-expert statistical evidence not accepted – finding on guilt – grade assignment of zero in the Course; 2-year suspension; 3-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged under s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(a), and s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student knowingly used or possessed an unauthorized aid in connection with a final exam, that the Student obtained the unauthorized aid while he went on a bathroom break during the Exam, and that the Student subsequently forcefully took and destroyed the unauthorized aid after it was seized by the Exam invigilators.
Student was not present for the initial hearing date. Reasonable notice of the hearing was provided. The Student claimed that he had become too ill to attend the hearing, and contacted the Office of Appeals, Discipline, and Faculty Grievances in the early hours of the scheduled hearing date. The initial hearing was adjourned, with reluctance, because though the evidence with respect to the Student’s illness warranted skepticism, the evidence was essentially uncontradicted. The Student was present at the subsequent hearings.
The Panel emphasized the onus of proof set out in the Code, noting that to prove the charges against the Student, the University must satisfy on a balance of probabilities standard, with clear and cogent evidence, that the Student used an unauthorized aid to assist him in the exam and then destroyed the unauthorized aid. For the purposes of the Student’s charges, it was not necessary for the Panel to determine how or where the Student obtained the cheat sheet.
Taking into account the evidence supporting the existence or absence of the unauthorized aid, the Panel accepted the evidence of the invigilators and determined that even without the physical cheat sheet being in evidence, the University had provided ample evidence to meet its burden of proving the existence of the cheat sheet. The Panel placed no weight on the statistical evidence that compared the Student’s exam answers to those of the suspected supplier of the unauthorized aid because of the lack of expert evidence provided as well as the general difficulties associated with statistical evidence.
Student was found guilty of all three charges. The Panel took into account that the Student was a first time offender. The Panel also took into account several aggravating factors; namely, that the Student destroyed the evidence rather than dealing with the repercussions of being caught cheating, the serious nature of the offence, and the Student’s lack of remorse throughout the proceeding and failure to accept responsibility. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a 2-year suspension; a 3-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.