Case #935

DATE: August 21, 2018

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. A.G. (“the Student”)
Hearing Date(s): July 10 and July 25, 2018
Panel Members:
Mr. Bernard S. Fishbein, Chair
Professor Michael Saini, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Natasha Brien, Student Panel Member
Appearances:
Ms. Tina Lie, Assistance Discipline Counsel for University, Paliare Roland Barristers
Mr. Thomas MacKay, Director, Faculty Governance & Curriculum, Faculty of Arts and Science
The Student
In Attendance:
Ms. Tracey Gameiro, Associate Director, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Mr. Brian Alexic, Technology Assistant, Office of the Governing Council
Trial Division - s. B.i.1(d) – plagiarism – two prior offences – chronic condition required hospitalization – agreed statement of facts – guilty plea – joint submission on penalty – final grade of zero in the course; three year suspension; notation on transcript for five years or until graduation, whichever is later.
The Student was charged with representing an expression of an idea or work of another in a paper contrary to section s.B.i.1(d) of the Code, or in the alternative unauthorized assistance contrary to s.B.i.1(b), or in the further alternative academic dishonesty not otherwise described contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to a paper that the Student had submitted for course credit that contained a number of passages that had been pulled verbatim from unattributed sources. The Student pled guilty to the first charge. The University withdrew the alternative charges. The matter proceeded by way of an agreed statement of facts.
The parties submitted a joint submission on penalty (JSP) recommending: (a) a final grade of zero in the course; (b) a three-year suspension; and (c) a notation on the Student’s transcript for five years or until graduation, whichever is later. In deciding whether or not to accept the JSP, the Tribunal referred to the cases S.F. (Case No. 690, October 20, 2014) and M.A. (Case No. 837, December 22, 2016) for the proposition that JSPs should only be rejected by a Tribunal when they are unreasonable or unconscionable. The Tribunal then considered the Mr. C factors (Case No. 1976/77-3, November 5, 1976): a) the character of the person charged; b) the likelihood of a repetition of the offence; c) the nature of the offence committed; d) any extenuating circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence; e) the detriment to the University occasioned by the offence; and f) the need to deter others from committing a similar offence. The Tribunal found that the Student’s admission of guilt and cooperation of the discipline process were mitigating circumstances and that the Student’s chronic condition that required hospitalization was an extenuating circumstance. At the same time, the offence was very serious, and was becoming increasingly common which made general deterrence an important consideration. Further, this was the Student’s third offence. The Student had been sanctioned two previous times for plagiarism, which made specific deterrence an important consideration. While the Tribunal thought the sanction may have been in the low range, they accepted it and ordered: (a) a final grade of zero in the course; (b) a three-year suspension; and (c) a notation on the Student’s transcript for five years or until graduation, whichever is longer.