Case 993 - Hearing in Student's Absence

DATE: July 4, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. K.Q.

HEARING DATE: March 27, 2019

Panel Members:
Ms. Cheryl Woodin, Chair
Professor Kenneth Derry, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Andrew Opper, Student Panel Member

Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP

In Attendance:
Ms. Krista Osbourne, Administrative Clerk & Hearing Secretary, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Not in Attendance: The Student

The Student was charged with academic misconduct under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that he knowingly forged, circulated or made use of a forged academic record, namely, a degree certificate dated June 18, 2008, in the Student’s name, purporting to grant him an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University. The charges arose following a request to the University from the Canadian Consulate in Shanghai, China, to verify the authenticity of the degree certificate submitted to it by the Student.

Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. The hearing was adjourned to permit the University to provide additional evidence and make supplementary submissions regarding steps taken to provide the Student with notice of the hearing.

The Tribunal noted that the onus of proof is on the University to demonstrate that it has provided the Student with reasonable notice of the hearing. In this case, the notice of hearing was sent to the Student in accordance with the requirements of section C.II.(a)(4) of the Code and Rules 9(c) and 14 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (the “Rules”). The Tribunal noted that students enrolled at the University are required to maintain current contact information in the ROSI system and to update that information if it changes. Under Rule 9 of the Rules, a notice of hearing may be served on a student by sending a copy by courier to the student’s mailing address in ROSI or by emailing a copy to the student’s email address in ROSI. The University complied with this rule in this case. In addition, the University attempted to communicate with the Student using a ‘Gmail’ address that the Student had previously provided to the University. The Panel was also advised by the University that the Canadian Consulate in Shanghai had communicated to the Student that it needed to verify the degree with the University and that the Student then withdrew his request to the Consulate. The Student was therefore on notice of the Consulate’s intention to communicate with the University regarding the degree the subject of the charges. Finally, the Tribunal noted that under sections six and seven of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act (the “Act”) and Rule 17 of the Rules, where reasonable notice of an oral hearing has been given to a party in accordance with the Act or the Rules and the party does not attend, the Tribunal may proceed in the absence of that party and the party is not entitled to any further notice in the proceedings. Based on the totality of the attempts made to provide notice to the Student, the Tribunal concluded that the Student was given reasonable notice of the hearing. It ordered that the hearing proceed in the Student’s absence and without further notice to the Student.