Case #854

DATE: November 30, 2016
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.B. (“the Student”)

Hearing Date(s): August 23, 2016

Panel Members:
Mr. Andrew Pinto, Barrister and Solicitor, Chair
Professor Ato Quayson, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Sean McGowan, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Barristers
Ms. Emily Home, Student-at-Law, Paliare Roland Barristers
Mr. Daniel Walker, Counsel for the Student, Bobila Walker Law LLP

In Attendance:
M.B., the Student
A.B., the Student’s Son
Ms. Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic Integrity & Affairs, Office of the Dean, University of Toronto Mississauga
Mr. Christopher Lang, Appeals, Discipline, and Faculty Grievances
Mr. Sean Lourim, Technology Assistant, Office of the Governing Council

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) of Code – plagiarism – group work - Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – two prior academic offences – mitigating factors include assignment was only worth 15% of the final grade in the course, student pleaded guilty which obviated need for University to prove student’s contribution to group work, student cooperated with discipline process - Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – grade assignment of zero in the course; suspension of two years; sanction recorded on academic record and transcript for three years; report to the Provost

The Student was charged with one offence of plagiarism under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code, and alternatively, academic dishonesty under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to a presentation worth 15% of her course marks in which, the Student admitted to knowingly including verbatim statements from unattributed sources and representing the ideas or words of others as her own. The Student pled guilty to the plagiarism charge. The University then withdrew the academic dishonesty charge.

An Agreed Statement of Fact and Joint Submission of Penalty was submitted by the Student and the University agreeing to a final grade of zero in the course, a two-year suspension, a three-year notation on her transcript and a report to the Provost regarding this case. The Student had committed two prior plagiarism offences. Five years prior to the current charge, the Student pled guilty to plagiarism in an assignment that she had submitted for course credit. She received a grade of zero on the assignment, a further reduction of ten marks from her final grade, and a six-month annotation on her academic record and transcript. The second prior incident of plagiarism was two years after the first. After pleading guilty to plagiarism, the Student received a penalty of a final grade of zero in the course, a one year suspension, and an 18-month annotation on her transcript and record for that offence. In accepting the Joint Submission of Penalty, the Panel took into account earlier decisions where a two-year suspension was awarded for students who had committed prior academic offences (University of Toronto v. Z.B., Case No. 487, January 22, 2008 and University of Toronto v. Y.L., Case No. 04-05-02, April 11, 2005), the fact that the assignment was only worth 15% of the final grade in the course, the Student’s guilty plea saved the University from having to prove the Student’s involvement and contribution to the offence, as well as the Student’s cooperation with the discipline process. The Panel found no principled reason to reject the parties’ Joint Submission of Penalty.