FILE: Case #499 (2008-2009)
DATE: October 6, 2008
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Mr. S.S.
Hearing Date(s): November 26, 2007
Mr. Raj Anand, Chair
Professor Ikuko Komuro-Lee, Faculty Member
Mr. Christopher Oates, Student Member
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University, and Ms. Jodi Martin
Mr. Maurice Vaturi, Counsel for the Student, and Mr. Ben Zaxks
Mr. S.S., the Student
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(b) of the Code – unauthorized aids – cell phone, cue cards and prior year’s examination – unaware of possession of aids and ignorance of how to operate cell phone – invigilator instructions not heard – interpretation of rules – cell phone not defined as unauthorized aid – phrase “ought reasonably to have known” suggests subjective element – Student subjectively knew or ought reasonably to have known that the items were unauthorized aids and ought to have known that the unauthorized aids where in the Student’s possession – finding of guilt – continuum of sanctions – see s. C.ii.(b) of the Code – academic status – no evidence aids used or benefited from – first allegation of academic offence – University not compelled to produce evidence of use and benefit in order to enforce rules and impose sanctions – stress and fatigue of preparing for and writing examinations not relevant mitigating factor – academic impact of sanctions is proper consideration – penalty sought by Student too lenient and penalty sought by University excessive for circumstances – grade assignment of zero in course; two-year notation on transcript; and report to Provost
The Student was charged under s. B.i.1(b), and alternatively, s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to a final examination in which the Student was found to be in possession of a cell phone, cue cards containing text related to the examination, and a photocopy of a prior year’s examination. The Student pleaded “Not Guilty” to both charges. The Student claimed that he was unaware that he had had aids in his jacket pocket and he was ignorant of how to correctly operate his cell phone, having believed that he had turned it off. The Student produced a doctor’s report, dated two days after the exam, which stated that the Student was experiencing weakness, fatigue, dehydration and headache. The Student claimed that he felt nervous when he arrived to write the exam and that he did not hear any announcements or the exam invigilator asking him to remove his jacket. The Student claimed that he interpreted the rule that certain items were prohibited “at the desk” to mean “on the desk”. The University claimed that the Student knew or ought reasonably to have known that the items found in his possession were unauthorized aids. The Student claimed that while cell phones were prohibited at the exam, the Code did not define a cell phone as an unauthorized aid. The Student claimed that the phrase “ought reasonably to have known” suggested a subjective element that implies the intent to do wrong. The Panel found the Student guilty of having committed an offence under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The Student subjectively knew or ought reasonably to have known that the cure cards, the previous year’s exam and the cell phone (at least while on) were unauthorized aids and he ought to have known that he had those unauthorized aids in his possession during the exam. With respect to penalty, the University claimed that when a student wilfully disregards the rules, it jeopardizes trust and integrity. The Student submitted that the panel should impose sanctions on the more lenient end of the continuum provided by the Code at s. C.ii.(b). The Panel considered the Student’s registration vis-à-vis graduation and requested that the parties provide written submissions on the academic consequences of proposed penalties, addressing both fact and principle. The Panel found that the nature of the offence was at the less serious end of the spectrum of cases, and that there was no evidence that the Student used the cell phone or other aids to assist him in the examination, or that he benefited from their presence. The Panel found that the Student knew from his time at the University, the examinations he had previously written and the warning at the front of the examination in question, that the aids were unauthorized. Whether or not the Student turned his mind to the issue, he ought to have known that he was violating the rules. The Panel observed that the allegation of academic offence was the first against the Student and it found nothing to suggest that a repetition of the offence was likely. The Panel found that the University should not be compelled to produce evidence of actual use and benefit obtained from prohibited notes or similar items before it is able to enforce its rules and impose sanctions, and to disregard the principle that students must check unauthorized aids at the door before writing the exam would compromise the University’s processes. The Panel found that stress and fatigue of preparing for and writing examinations was not a relevant mitigating or extenuating circumstance as it had affected almost all students undergoing evaluation and it was inconceivable that the circumstances could justify a violation of the rules. The Panel found that the academic impact of the sanctions proposed by the respective parties was a proper consideration for the Tribunal for several reasons: the impact of the offence on the University’s “public” and on the individual in question is a reflection of the twin factors of general and specific deterrence; there is judicial authority for the application of criminal law principles of sentencing in cases of professional or regulatory discipline; under both criminal and administrative law discipline principles, mitigating or extenuating circumstances are relevant; and the criminal and administrative law discipline principles are reflected in the body of Tribunal cases. The Panel observed that only through inquiry and assessment of the implications of its intended penalty can the Tribunal determine which side that evidence supports. The Panel considered precedent cases and found that the penalty sought by the Student was too lenient while the penalty sought by the University was excessive for the circumstances. The Panel imposed a mark of zero in the course; a two-year notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; and that a report be issued to the Provost.
FILE: Case #03-04-01 (2003-2004)
DATE: April 7, 2004
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Ms. B.
Hearing Date(s): October 1, 2003, November 11, 2003, December 3, 2003, and April 1, 2004
Laura Trachuk, Co-Chair
Justin Ancheta, Student Panel Member
Marie-Josée Fortin, Faculty Panel Member
Eric Lewis, for Ms. B.
Lily I. Harmer, for the University
Hugo de Quehen, Faculty member, Department of English
Devon LaBerge, Student
Mrs. B., Mother of the accused
Ms. B., Accused
Chris Ramsaroop, Student
Susan Lishingman, Administrative Assistant, University College
Endel Tulving, Expert Witness
Susan Bartkiw, Faculty of Arts and Science
Trial Division - s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of Code – plagiarism and unauthorized aid – submitted test containing passages plagiarized from internet - portions of website unconsciously memorized from study notes and inadvertently reproduced in answers - hearing adjourned sine die - expert examination of memory abilities refused – expert opinion evidence – explanation not believable and no other explanation for reproduction of material – finding of guilt – no remorse because offence not admitted to – no prior offences - notation for same period as suspension because coursework for degree potentially completed before start of suspension - inappropriate to delay resumption of academic career beyond suspension - grade assignment of zero for course; two-year suspension; two-year notation on transcript; and report to Provost
Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(b), and alternatively, under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted a final test, portions of which were not written by her, and that during the test she used or possessed an unauthorized aid or obtained unauthorized assistance. The Student pleaded not guilty to the charges. It was not in dispute that passages in the Student’s examination booklet were identical to passages found from a website printout. The Student claimed that she unconsciously memorized portions of the website from her study notes and then inadvertently reproduced the material in her answers. The Panel adjourned the hearing sine die for the purposes of obtaining an expert examination of the Student’s memory abilities. The Student refused testing in the hearing interlude. The Panel accepted the qualifications of a human memory expert and considered his opinion evidence that it was not possible that a student could unconsciously memorize study notes. The Panel found that the Student’s explanation was not believable because the only other example of her remarkable memory offered was her mother’s recollection of her ability to give an oral presentation she had consciously memorized. The Panel found that while it did not how the Student accessed the website or her study notes during the period of the test, there was no other explanation for how the material was reproduced. The Panel found that the University has provided clear and convincing evidence that the Student violated the Code and found her guilty of the offences under s. B.i.1(d)and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The Panel found that the Student had not admitted the offences and therefore she had not shown any remorse for them, and that she had no prior offences. The Panel found that the notation of the imposed sanction on the Student’s transcript should only be for the same period as the suspension because the Student may potentially complete her coursework for her degree in the term in which the hearing occurred and that the effect of a three-year notation might be to delay the resumption of her academic career beyond the two-year period of the suspension, which would be inappropriate in the circumstances. The Panel imposed a grade of zero in the course; a two-year suspension; a two-year notation on the Students academic record and transcript; and that a report be issued to the Provost.