Case #783

DATE: July 21, 2015

PARTIES: University of Toronto v Y.T.
Hearing Date(s): April 30, 2015
Panel Members:
Dena Varah, Chair
Markus Bussmann, Faculty Member
Shan Arora, Student Member
Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel
Julia Wilkes, Counsel for the Student
In Attendance:
Ms. Y.T., the Student (via Skype)
Lucy Gaspini, Manager, Academic Integrity and Affairs, University of Toronto Mississauga
Natalie Ramtahal, Coordinator, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code – plagiarism, unauthorized aid, and academic dishonesty – course work purchased from commercial provider of essays – failed to attribute ideas and expressions from an academic source – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – finding on Agreed Statement of Facts – finding on guilt – Joint Submission on Penalty – prior academic offence – mitigating factors of using only four paragraphs of the Purchased Essay and personal issues – aggravating factor of previous academic offence – Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – grade assignment of zero in the Course; 5-year suspension; notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript until her graduation from the University; case reported to Provost for publication
Student charged under s. B.i.1(d), s. B.i.1(b) and, in the alternative, under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted an essay containing four paragraphs directly from an essay purchased from a commercial essay provider and that the Student copied the ideas and expressions of an academic source without attributing the excerpts appropriately.
Student admitted to having committed the offences. The University then withdrew the alternative charge of academic dishonesty not otherwise described. The Panel reviewed the Agreed Statement of Facts in determining that the Student was guilty of plagiarism and using unauthorized aid.
The University and the Student submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty. The Panel noted that though the purchase of essays is among the most serious of offences that can be committed in a University setting, and that the sanction is generally expulsion, there were a number of distinguishing mitigating factors in this case that made a lesser sanction appropriate. The mitigating factors were that the Student only used part of the Purchased Essay and completed much of the essay on her own, and that the Student had a difficult year personally with health and familial issues. The Panel also took into account an aggravating factor, namely that the Student had a prior academic offence. In deciding the appropriate sanction, the Panel noted the high threshold for rejecting a Joint Submission on Penalty, and stated that to reject it here would be inappropriate. The Panel imposed a grade assignment of zero in the Course; a 5-year suspension; a notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript until her graduation from the University; and that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.