DATE: November 26, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. J.R.
HEARING DATE: August 27, 2019
Mr. R.S.M. Woods, Chair
Dr. Ian Crandall, Faculty Member
Ms. Madison Bruno, Student Member
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Krista Osbourne, Administrative Clerk and Hearing Secretary, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Not in Attendance:
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 falsified, circulated or made use of a forged academic record, namely, a document purporting to be a degree certificate from the University.
Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. Based on the evidence provided by the University of service of the charges and notice of the hearing on the Student to the Student’s email and mailing addresses in the Repository of Student Information (ROSI), the Tribunal was satisfied that the Student had been given adequate notice of the hearing in compliance with the University Tribunal Rules of Practice and Procedure.
The University tendered an affidavit from the Director of the University’s Office of Convocation, stating that a third party had submitted a confirmation of degree request to the Office in respect of the Student through the University’s Confirmation of Degree website. The third party submitted a copy of the diploma provided by the Student. The Director’s evidence was that the University had not granted the Student a degree. This was corroborated by the Student’s academic record which showed that while the Student had attended the University and completed some courses towards a degree, no degree had been granted. The Tribunal was satisfied based on the evidence that the University had discharged its burden to establish that the academic offence charged had been committed by the Student. While it had no direct evidence that the Student personally forged the degree certificate, the Panel stated that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it was prepared to draw the inference from the evidence that the Student had knowingly forged the degree certificate and supplied it to the third party.
The Panel stated that there can be no question that forging and circulating a degree certificate is an extremely serious offence. Forged certificates damage the University’s reputation, undermine the trust prospective employers and other academic institutions have in the University and its students, and harm students who have earned their degrees by forcing them to compete for positions against students who have not earned the qualifications they claim to hold. There was no evidence before the Tribunal of any factor mitigating against the imposition of a penalty consistent with the penalties imposed by the Tribunal in similar cases.
The Tribunal imposed the following sanctions: immediate suspension for a period of five years; recommendation of expulsion from the University; and publication by the Provost of a notice of the decision and sanctions imposed with the Student’s name withheld.