Case #793

DATE: July 16, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v X.F.W.
Hearing Date(s): June 11, 2015
Panel Members:
Jeffrey S. Leon, Chair
Michael Evans, Faculty Member
Alice Zhu, Student Member
Appearances:
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic Integrity and Affairs, University of Toronto Mississauga
Marleen Rozemond, Professor of the Course
In Attendance:
Virginia Fletcher, Law Clerk
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Joanne Deboehmler, Observer, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) of the Code – plagiarism – submitted three papers with significant and intentional plagiarism – hearing not attended – reasonable notice of hearing provided as per the Code and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act – finding on guilt – aggravating factors of multiple plagiarized papers, deliberate attempts by the Student to hide the plagiarism, disregard for the discipline process and failure to respond, and no demonstrated accountability and remorse – grade assignment of zero in the Course; 3-year suspension; the earlier of either a 4-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript, or a notation until the Student’s graduation from the University; case reported to Provost for publication
Student was charged with three offences under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code. The charges related to allegations of plagiarism for three separate assignments in the Course. The Student was not present at the hearing at the appointed time. The Panel waited for 30 minutes. The Panel concluded that the efforts made to contact the Student by phone, mail, and e-mail were reasonable as per the Code and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. The Panel ordered that the Hearing proceed in the Student’s absence.
Student was found guilty of all three charges of plagiarism. The Panel took into account Turnitin reports and concluded that there was significant and intentional plagiarism. The extent and nature of the plagiarism precluded any possibility that the dishonest conduct was the result of a mere error or a simple lack of proper attribution. There was also no evidence to suggest that the conduct was a result of a failure on the Student’s part to understand the English language with sufficient proficiency. The Panel noted that the changes made by the Student to the plagiarized quotes were sophisticated and well thought out. The Panel also noted that it could not determine whether there was any reason not to suspect that there would be a repetition of offences.
The Panel took into account a number of aggravating factors; namely, that three plagiarized papers were submitted, that the conduct of the Student demonstrated a deliberate attempt to hide the plagiarism, that the Student disregarded the discipline process in its entirety and failed to respond throughout, and that the Student demonstrated no accountability and no remorse. The Panel emphasized the seriousness of the offence of plagiarism and noted the importance of denouncing and penalizing such dishonest conduct in a reasoned, principled, and consistent manner. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a 3-year suspension; the earlier of either a 4-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript, or a notation until the Student’s graduation from the University; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.