Case #862

DATE: August 23, 2016

PARTIES: University of Toronto v Z.Z.
Hearing Date(s): July 14, 2016
Panel Members:
Paul Schabas, Chair
Chris Koenig-Woodyward, Faculty Member
Sue Mazzatto, Student Member
Appearances:
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Barristers
Thomas Kierstead, Instructor of the Course
Kristi Gourlay, Manager, Office of Academic Integrity
In Attendance:
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code – plagiarism and unauthorized aid – Student plagiarized and obtained unauthorized assistance for two essays in the Course – though the Panel made no explicit finding that the second essay was purchased, the evidence clearly showed that it was a custom written essay not written by the Student, and it was therefore reasonable to infer that it was purchased – finding on evidence – finding on guilt – grade assignment of zero in the Course; recommendation of expulsion; permanent notation of the expulsion on the Student’s academic record if the recommendation is accepted; 5-year suspension and notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript pending the Governing Council’s decision on expulsion; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged with two offences under s. B.i.1(d), two offences under s. B.i.1(b) and, in the alternative, two offences under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted two essays for the Course containing many elements of plagiarism and unauthorized aid. The Student was not present at the hearing. The Panel found that reasonable notice of the hearing had been provided, and the hearing continued in the absence of the Student.
The Student was found guilty of the plagiarism charges under s. B.i.1(d). The Panel accepted evidence regarding the improper citations, unattributed sources, and the disparity between the level of English between the two essays and between the essays and the Student’s in class work. The second essay appeared to be purchased from a commercial provider of essays given the level of professionalism in which it was written. The Panel concluded that, on a balance of probabilities the essays were not the work of the Student. Having found the student guilty of plagiarism, the Panel did not make findings on the charges under s. B.i.1(b) and s. B.i.3(b).
Though the Panel made no explicit finding that the second essay was purchased, the evidence clearly showed that it was a custom written essay not written by the Student, and it was therefore reasonable to infer that it was purchased. The Panel therefore concluded that it was appropriate to consider the jurisprudence on purchased essays in this case. The Panel noted that the purchase of essays is among the most serious of offences that can be committed in a University setting, and that the sanction is generally expulsion. There mitigating factors to suggest a lesser penalty; the Student was already aware of concerns with the academic integrity of his first essay when the second essay was handed in, and the Student was aware of this discipline process but chose not to engage. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a recommendation of expulsion; a permanent notation of the expulsion on the Student’s academic record if the recommendation is accepted; a 5-year suspension and notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript pending the Governing Council’s decision on expulsion; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.