Case #809

DATE: January 29, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v Q.S.S.
Hearing Date(s): November 26, 2015
Panel Members:
Johanna Braden, Chair
Michael Evans, Faculty Member
Jenna Jacobson, Student Member
Appearances:
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Lauren Pearce, Student-at-Law, Paliare Roland
John Britton, Professor Emeritus, Dean’s Designate, Office of Student Academic Integrity, Faculty of Arts and Science
Kasha Visutskie, Academic Integrity Officer, Office of Student Academic Integrity, Faculty of Arts and Science
In Attendance:
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Krista Osbourne, Administrative Assistant, Appeals Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(b) of the Code – plagiarism – Student purchased coursework from a commercial provider of essays – hearing not attended – reasonable notice of hearing provided pursuant to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure – finding on evidence – finding on guilt – University submission on penalty accepted – commercial element puts offence at highest end of plagiarism spectrum - grade assignment of zero in the Course; 3-year suspension; 4-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(b) and, in the alternative, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted plagiarized coursework which he had purchased from a commercial provider of academic essays. The Student was not present at the hearing. The Panel concluded that the efforts made to contact the Student by email and courier were reasonable as per the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Panel ordered that the hearing proceed in the Student’s absence.
Student was found guilty with respect to the plagiarism charge. The University then withdrew the unauthorized aid and academic dishonesty not otherwise described charges. The Panel took into account the fact that the Essay’s document properties listed the initials of a commercial provider of essays as the author, that the writing style was inconsistent with the Student’s previously submitted version and in-class examinations for the Course, and that the Student could not paraphrase the ideas or define words used in the revised Essay at a meeting with the Course Instructor as evidence that significant portions of the Essay were not written by the Student. The Panel noted that though plagiarism involving purchasing essays from commercial enterprises is at the highest end of the plagiarism spectrum in terms of seriousness, this case fell somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum given that the Student had no prior academic offences and that the entire essay may not have been purchased. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a 3-year suspension; a 4-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.