Case #543

DATE: January 28, 2010
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.H.

Hearing Date(s): July 3, 2009

Panel Members:
Raj Anand, Chair
Prof. Shadi Dalili, Faculty Member
Elena Kuzmin, Student Member

Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel for the University
Betty-Ann Campbell, Law Clerk, Paliare Roland Barristers
Prof. Shafique Virani, Instructor
Edith Szanto Ali-Dib, Teaching Assistant

In Attendance:
Lucy Gaspini, Academic Affairs Officer, UTM
Nancy Smart, Judicial Affairs Officer, Office of the Governing Council

Trial Division – s. B.I.1(d) and s. B.I.3(b) of the Code – plagiarism – verbatim or near verbatim excerpts – hearing not attended – reasonable notice of hearing provided – finding on evidence of guilt – little evidence relating to character of the Student – University submission on penalty accepted partially - need for rehabilitation – final grade of zero in the course; two-year suspension; two-year notation on transcript; and report to Provost

Student charged with two offences under s. B.I.1(d) and s. B.I.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to the allegations that the Student plagiarized an essay. The Student allegedly submitted an essay that contained large excerpts that were obtained either verbatim or nearly verbatim from two website sources. The Student did not attend the hearing. The Panel was satisfied by the documentary evidence and submissions by Discipline Counsel that the Student had received notification of an earlier hearing date, that they had requested an adjournment of that date, and had been notified of the new date. The Panel found the charge under s. B.I.1(d) was made out by Discipline Counsel and the University had satisfied the burden of proof that the Student knew or ought to have known that they were representing ideas or expressions of another without proper citations or sources. The University withdrew the charge under s. B.I.3(b). The Panel found that a two-year suspension for the first offence of plagiarism, even in cases where the paper in question is worth a small proportion of the course in question, is appropriate in the absence of mitigating factors. The Panel accepted the University submission on penalty counts except regarding the notation of the suspension on the Student’s transcript. The University sought for a three-year notation on the student’s transcript along with a two-year suspension. The Panel put the question to Discipline Counsel about the issue of matching the notification on the transcript and the length of the suspension. Discipline Counsel recognized that this was an area which had not often been explicitly considered in previous cases. The Panel noted that the Student was a first-year student and the essay was worth approximately 25 percent of the course. The Panel further noted there should be some recognition of the need for rehabilitation. With this in mind, the Panel held that a two-year notation was sufficient. The Panel imposed a final grade of zero in the course, a two-year suspension, a two-year notation on the student’s transcript, and that a report to the Provost be issued.