Case #811

DATE: December 8, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v Y.L.
Hearing Date(s): September 29, 2015
Panel Members:
Sarah Kraicer, Chair
Joel Kirsh, Faculty Member
Simon Czajkowski, Student Member
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Dylan Clark, Director of Contemporary Asian Studies
Pamela Klassen, Dean’s Designate for Academic Integrity, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
In Attendance:
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Johanna Braden, Observer
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(f) of the Code – plagiarism and concoction – 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 – Student knew or ought to have known he was committing plagiarism given his years of academic experience – finding on guilt – two prior academic offences of plagiarism – acknowledgement of responsibility not considered a mitigating factor given previous warnings and academic discipline – aggravating factor of disregarding previous warnings – high likelihood of repeating the misconduct – more serious offences must receive more serious sanctions than lesser offences – grade assignment of zero in the Course; 3-year suspension; notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript until his graduation from the University; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(f) and, in the alternative, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student knowingly represented ideas from other sources as his own in the Essay for the Course and that the Student submitted the Essay for credit knowing that it contained references to sources that had been concocted. The Student was not present at the hearing. The Panel concluded that the efforts made to contact the Student by email were reasonable as per sections 6 and 7 of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and Rule 17 of the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Panel ordered that the hearing proceed in the Student’s absence.
The Student was found guilty with respect to the plagiarism and concoction charges. The University then withdrew the alternative charge of academic dishonesty not otherwise described. The Panel took into account the fact that the Student had considerable experience with academic work at the University at the time he submitted the Essay, supporting the finding that he either knew or ought to have known that the Essay contained plagiarism and concocted references. The Panel also noted that the Student had committed two prior acts of plagiarism, the latter of which resulted in a meeting with the Dean’s Designate only 3 days before the Student submitted the plagiarized Essay at issue in this case. Though the Student acknowledged that he committed the offences at a meeting with the Dean’s Designate, the Panel did not consider this acknowledgment of responsibility to be a mitigating factor given his disregard for the two prior warnings he received. The Panel emphasised that the concoction of references exacerbates the seriousness of plagiarism because it adds a further element of dishonesty to the offence.
The Panel noted that the likelihood that the Student would repeat this misconduct was high, and stated that a significant penalty is warranted to achieve specific deterrence in these circumstances. The Panel did not accept the University’s proposed penalty of a 3-year notation of the sanction on the Student’s academic record, noting that 3 years was insufficient to reflect the Student’s misconduct history, the likelihood that he would repeat the misconduct, and the need for specific deterrence. The Panel also noted that it would be inappropriate and misleading for this more serious offence to receive a notation period shorter than the notation for the earlier, less serious sanction. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a 3-year suspension; a notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript until his graduation from the University; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.