Case #971

DATE: November 28, 2019

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.A. (“the Student”)
Hearing Date(s): September 19, 2018
Panel Members:
Ms. Roslyn M. Tsao, Chair
Professor Ken Derry, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Bradley Au, Student Panel Member
Appearances:
Mr. Robert A. Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for University, Paliare Roland Barristers
Hearing Secretary:
Ms. Tracey Gameiro, Associate Director, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Not in Attendance:
The Student
Trial Division - s. B.i.3(f) – concocted sources in an essay – student did not attend hearing – notice provided through email - first offence – Tribunal can consider concurrent charges in the alternative – reliance on Professor’s expertise in determining whether sources are relevant – suspension backdated to recognize delay not attributable to the Student - grade of zero in the course, two-year suspension, notation on transcript for three years, and report to the Provost with the Student’s name withheld.
The Student was charged with three charges related to an essay that had been submitted for course credit: (1) attributing the expressions of the ideas of another as their own work contrary to s.B.i.1(d) of the Code; (2) unauthorized assistance contrary to s. B.i.1(b) of the Code; (3) concocting sources, contrary to s. B.i.1(f) of the Code; or in the alternative, academic dishonesty not otherwise described contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.
The Student did not attend the hearing. The Tribunal found that notice of the hearing had been effected on the Student on the basis of affidavit evidence that numerous emails had been sent to the Student’s ROSI email account, and that the account had been accessed since notice had first been sent via email. The Tribunal found that the hearing could proceed in the Student’s absence.
While the University advanced the charges on a concurrent basis, the Tribunal found that it was open to them to consider the charges in the alternative as they related to a single essay. The Tribunal found that the evidence supported a finding of concoction on the basis of examples advanced by the professor that showed that, in many cases, the sources cited were clearly not on point (even to the non-expert Tribunal) and were included to provide a “patina of academic rigour” to the essay. The Tribunal found the Student not guilty on charges 1 and 2 relating to "plagiarism" and "use of unauthorized aid". Upon the Tribunal’s finding of guilt on charge 3, the University withdrew the alternative charge of academic dishonesty not otherwise specified.
In determining the appropriate penalty, the Tribunal considered the Mr. C. factors (Case No. 1976/77-3, November 5, 1976). The Student had no prior discipline history but had only earned 19 credits in his four years at the University and last attended in the Fall 2016 Term, so rehabilitation was of minor importance given that the Student was inactive. The Tribunal accepted that it was important that the sanction would allow the Student to return to the University should he choose to resume his studies. The Tribunal accepted the University’s proposed penalty, awarding: (a) a final grade of zero in the Course; (b) a suspension from the University for two years starting January 1, 2018 (to account for delay that is not attributable to the Student); (c) a notation of the sanction on his academic record and transcript for three years; and (d) that the case be reported to the Provost for publication of a notice of the decision with the name of the Student withheld.