Case #865

DATE: February 22, 2017
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.M. (“the Student”)

Hearing Date(s): November 17,2016

Panel Members:
Ms. Johanna Braden, Barrister and Solicitor, Chair
Professor Richard Day, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Alexis Giannelia, Student Panel Member

Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland, Barristers

In Attendance:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Office of the Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Ms. Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic Integrity and Affairs, Office of the Dean, University of Toronto, Mississauga
Mr, Sean Lourim, Technology Assistant, Office of the Governing Council

Not in Attendance:
The Student

Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) and s. B.i.3(d) of the Code – unauthorized aids on exam – illegal notes – Student not present – affidavits served – concurrent and consecutive penalties – Student already suspended for a low grade-point-average at the time of the hearing – grade of zero in course; suspension of two years; notation on transcript for three years; report to Provost for publication – one year overlap between existing academic suspension and penalty imposed at hearing

Student charged with possession of an unauthorized aid under s. B.i.1(b), and in the alternative, an academic dishonesty under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The Student did not attend the hearing but the Panel was satisfied that the Student had reasonable notice of the hearing and had been served several affidavits in accordance with the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the University Tribunal. The Panel proceeded in accordance with the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure.

The charges related to the Student’s possession of unauthorized notes during an exam. The Student had been advised in the course materials and when she signed in for the exam that memory aids were not allowed during the exam. At the end of the exam, an invigilator noticed that the Student had typewritten and handwritten notes in her possession. After being confronted about her notes at the time of the exam, the Student gave inconsistent accounts to her instructor and at the Dean’s designate meeting as to whether and how she had used these notes. Based on the evidence of the instructor and the exam invigilators, the Panel unanimously ruled that the Student had violated s. B.i.1(b) of the Code and the University withdrew the alternative charge.

The Panel accepted the University’s submission on penalty of a grade of zero in the course, a suspension of two years, a notation on the Student’s transcript for three years, and a report to the Provost for publication. At issue was when these penalties would take effect because, at the time of the hearing, the Student was already a year and a half into a three-year academic suspension for a low grade-point-average. To determine if the penalty should run consecutively or concurrently with the Student’s ongoing suspension, the Panel took into consideration that giving or receiving of unauthorized aid generally results in a suspension of at least two to three years. Even though this was the Student’s first offence, it was a deliberate and calculated attempt to gain a benefit that she was not entitled to. The Tribunal sought to impose a sanction that would be meaningful to the Student and also have some practical impact on her ability to attend the University, but was concerned that a sanction that would effectively keep the Student from attending the University for two years on top of her academic suspension would be overly punitive. Accordingly, the Panel ordered a one year overlap between the Student’s in-progress academic suspension and the additional sanctions imposed for her use of an unauthorized aid at the hearing. One year of the suspension and transcript notation took effect concurrently with the suspension that was in-progress.