Case 992

DATE: December 16, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.A.

HEARING DATE: September 19, 2019

Panel Members:
Ms. Michelle Henry, Chair
Professor Richard B. Day, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. David Allens, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Kristy Wong, Representative for the Student, Downtown Legal Services
The Student

In Attendance:
Ms. Jennifer Dent, Associate Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

The Student was charged with four counts of academic misconduct under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that he knowingly committed plagiarism in submitting four assignments for academic credit containing an idea or expression of an idea and/or the work of another without attribution. The Student was also charged with two counts of knowingly using or possessing an unauthorized aid or obtaining unauthorized assistance in connection with two assignments, contrary to s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. In the alternative, the Student was charged under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code in connection with an assignment submitted for partial completion of the requirements of a course. The Student was also charged in the alternative under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code on the basis that he knowingly engaged in a form of cheating, academic dishonesty or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation not otherwise described in the Code in order to obtain academic credit or other academic advantage in connection with a mid-term and three assignments.

The parties submitted an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”), a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”) and a Joint Book of Documents (“JBD”). Following deliberations and based on the ASF and JBD, the Panel was satisfied that the charges had been proven with clear and convincing evidence on a balance of probabilities and accepted the guilty pleas of the Student in respect of the charges. In addition to the penalties recommended in the JSP, the Student also provided an undertaking to complete six academic writing workshops at the University within the first eight months following the date he next registers for a course. The Student accepted that he will not be eligible to graduate from the University until he fulfils the undertaking and the University may rely on this undertaking to deny him the ability to graduate until it is fulfilled.

The Panel noted the following mitigating factors: the Student admitted guilt to the offences, which admission was a demonstration of his insight; and the Student cooperated in the process and accepted responsibility, which demonstrated ownership and responsibility for his actions. The Panel also took into consideration the serious and deliberate nature of the offences and the detriment to the University. There was no evidence of prior offences or misconduct; however, despite having been caught, the Student still engaged in further offences. The Panel noted the high threshold required for it to deviate from the JSP and that only truly unreasonable or unconscionable joint submissions should be rejected. In the Panel’s view, the JSP submitted by the parties was reasonable.

The Tribunal imposed the following sanctions: a grade of zero in the four courses; a four-year suspension (less 19 days); a five-year notation on the transcript; and a report to the Provost for publication.