Case #796

DATE: November 10, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. R.D. (“the Student”)
Hearing Date(s): August 11, 2016
Panel Members:
Ms. Johanna Braden, Barrister and Solicitor,
Chair Professor Bruno Magliocchetti, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Sean McGowan, Student Panel Member
Appearances:
Ms. Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland, Barristers
Ms. Ejona Xega, Student-at-law, Downtown Legal Services
In Attendance:
The Student
Ms. Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic lntegrity and Affairs, Office of the Dean, U of T, Mississauga
Mr. H.D., the Student's brother
Ms. S.D., the Student's mother
Mr. D.D., the Student's father
Mr. Paul Michell, Observer, newly appointed Tribunal Co-Chair
Ms. Tracey Gameiro, Associate Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b), s. B.i.1(d) of Code – unauthorized assistance - plagiarism –– Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – Agreed Statement of Facts on Penalty – Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – sentencing principles – consideration of Mr. C factors relevant to sanction – grade assignment of zero in the two courses associated with the plagiarism charges; a suspension of two years and eight months; a notation on the Student’s transcript until graduation; and a report to the Provost.
Student charged with two charges of plagiarism contrary to s. B.i.1(d) of the Code and one charge of obtaining unauthorized assistance during a test contrary to s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. Alternative charges included academic dishonesty contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code, obtaining unauthorized assistance contrary to s. B.i.1(b) of the Code, and being a party to obtaining unauthorized assistance contrary to s. B.i.1(b) and s. B.ii.1 of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student shared answers with another student during a test, and had represented ideas as his own from unattributed sources in two separate written assignments.
The matter proceeded by an Agreed Statement of Facts. In relation to the charge of unauthorized assistance, the Student admitted that he had shared answers with a classmate during a test. The plagiarism charges related to essays that had been turned in for course credit in two separate courses. Both essays copied text directly from internet sources (Wikipedia, the BBC website, and others) that had not been accompanied by proper citations. The Student did not admit liability at the Dean’s Designate meetings with respect to the offences but at the Tribunal, pled guilty to the unauthorized assistance charge as well as the two charges of forgery. Upon the Panel finding guilt on these charges, the University withdrew the alternative charges.
The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty. In determining the appropriateness of the proposed penalty, the Panel took into consideration that the Student’s admissions of guilt only came after his co-conspirator had admitted to unauthorized assistance during the test; that the Student had past academic misconduct (he had two prior charges of plagiarism in addition to three charges dealt with at the hearing); that the Student would be graduating after the completion of the sanction so it was the last chance to stress the importance of the Code; and the need for general deterrence. The Panel reviewed other cases advanced by the University which suggested that a two-year suspension is a threshold penalty for plagiarism, and that a three-year suspension is a "baseline" where there have been multiple offences. In light of the Student’s history of academic misconduct, the Panel noted that a suspension of three to four years may have been appropriate in this case, but recognized the need to respect and defer to the Joint Submission on Penalty. Though it was on the low end of sanctions where a student was found guilty of multiple offences, the Panel accepted the parties’ Joint Submission on Penalty of a grade assignment of zero in the two courses associated with the plagiarism charges; a suspension of two years and eight months; a notation on the Student’s transcript until graduation; and a report to the Provost.