Case #1051

DATE: August 24, 2020

PARTIES: University of Toronto v. A.J. (“the Student”)

HEARING DATE: May 27, 2020, in writing

Panel Members:
Ms. Shantona Chaudhury, Chair
Professor Julian Lowman, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Andrey Lapin, Student Panel Member

Ms. Tina Lie, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Mr. Jacob Millns, Downtown Legal Services, Representative for the Student

On two occasions, the Student was charged under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) for knowingly representing as her own an idea or expression of an idea or work of another in a paper she submitted for a course. She had committed plagiarism by submitting two papers in which she included verbatim or near-verbatim passages from sources that were either not referenced or improperly referenced. She was charged alternatively under ss. B.i.1(b) and B.i.3(b) of the Code for these offences.

This matter proceeded as a written hearing under Rule 47 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure, pursuant to the parties’ joint request. The parties submitted an ASF, a JBD, an ASFP and a JSP. The Student pleaded guilty to both charges under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code and acknowledged that she had done so freely and voluntarily, knowing of the potential consequences she faced, and having obtained the advice of legal counsel. The University withdrew the alternative charges.

Citing the decision of the Discipline Appeals Board in S.F. (Case No. 690, October 20, 2014), the Panel noted that “joint submissions promote the early resolution of disputes, the saving of time and expense and they provide a level of certainty for the parties, which, in turn, may lead them to make accommodations that would otherwise not be made.” In the Panel’s view, there was no basis to reject the JSP. It described plagiarism as a serious offence that diminishes the relationship of trust between the University and its students and undermines the evaluative process fundamental to the academic setting. The Panel found it troubling that the Student had a prior plagiarism offence and committed two further plagiarism offences. In its view, this militates in favour of a significant sanction. 

The Tribunal imposed the following sanctions: grade assignment of zero in the course; suspension from the day the Panel made its order to the earlier of (1) three years from the date of the Panel’s order, or (2) May 31, 2023; notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript from the day the Panel made its order until graduation; report to the Provost for publication of the decision and the sanctions imposed, with the Student’s name withheld.