Case #970

DATE: December 17, 2018

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.J. (“the Student”)
Hearing Date(s): August 10 and October 4, 2018
Panel Members:
Ms. Sara Zborovski, Barrister and Solicitor, Chair
Professor Michael Evans, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Yusra Qazi, Student Panel Member
Appearances:
Robert A. Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland, Barristers
In Attendance:
Ms. Laurie O'Handley, Academic Integrity Specialist, Faculty of Arts & Science
Hearing Secretary:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Academic Grievances, University of Toronto (August 10, 2018)
Ms. Tracey Gamerio, Associate Director, Appeals, Discipline and Academic Grievances,
University of Toronto (October 4, 2018)
Not in Attendance:
The Student
Trial Division - s. B.i.3(a) – forging or falsifying an academic record – forged degree – reasonable notice of hearing not met when service only made to email account without ensuring account had been checked – student did not attend hearing - suspension of five years pending expulsion and a report to the Provost with the Student’s name withheld.
The Student was charged with one charge of forging or falsifying an academic record contrary to s.B.i.3(a) of the Code. The charges related to a degree certificate that the Student had provided to an online degree verification service that purported to confer a degree to the Student when in fact, the Student had not graduated from the University. The initial hearing was adjourned because the Tribunal found that adequate notice had not been provided to the Student on the basis of evidence that the only attempt at service had been through an email to the Student’s ROSI account. The Tribunal found that adequate notice of the subsequent hearing had been given by the University on the basis of the totality of attempts that the University had made to effect service on the Student, including: the Student’s ROSI email account had been checked since notice of the hearing had been sent by the University via email, that the University had attempted to send a courier to the Student’s last known address on ROSI and was told by the concierge that the Student lived at that address but would not accept the letter, and a letter that had been send by Canada Post. The Student did not attend the hearing. The hearing proceeded in the Student’s absence pursuant to sections 6 and 7 of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and Rule 17 of the Rules.
The Tribunal found that the Student was guilty of forging an academic record on the basis of affidavit evidence that the Student had provided a Certificate of Degree to an individual who had then asked a service to verify its authenticity. The Tribunal reviewed a number of decisions, which established that the forgery of a degree was a serious offence because falsification both undermines the credibility of the University and of other students who have legitimately earned their grades and degrees. The Tribunal also considered that the Student's conduct was premediated and egregious, and that the Student did not respond to correspondence from the University or its counsel, nor did he attend the hearing or send anyone on their behalf. The Tribunal ordered: an immediate suspension for a period of up to five years; a recommendation to the President that the Student be expelled; and that the case be reported to the Provost with the Student’s name withheld.