DATE: April 16, 2020
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.W.
HEARING DATE: January 17, 2020
Mr. Nader Hasan, Chair
Professor Pascal van Lieshout, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Yursra Qazi, Student Panel Member
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Mr. Lorne Sabsay, Counsel for the Student, Sabsay Lawyers
Mr. Christopher Lang, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Not in Attendance: The Student
The Student had already been charged and found guilty under s. B.i.3(a) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (“Code”) on the basis that she knowingly forged or knowingly made use of two sets of forged documents: (1) a Simon Fraser University (“SFU”) Transcript, and (2) various SFU course outlines. The Panel reconvened to hear submissions on sanction.
The Panel observed that deterrence was a significant consideration because the Student’s SFU transcript appeared to be genuine. Further, counsel for the Student had fairly conceded that given the weight of the relevant caselaw, there was very little room for a student found guilty of these offences to argue for a sanction less than expulsion. The Panel also noted that although there is no automatic rule weighing in favour of recommending expulsion, these offences typically result in recommendations of expulsion in all but exceptional cases.
The question for the Panel was whether there were mitigating factors sufficient to tip the scale in favour of a lesser sanction. The Panel did not accept as a mitigating factor that the Student had been sexually assaulted by her former boyfriend, who was one of the University’s main witnesses in the proceeding pertaining to her trauma, because it found no evidence from any medical professional, counsellor or from the Student herself or from her friend or family.
According to the Panel, aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors. Beyond the general principles weighing in favour of a recommendation of expulsion for these offences, there were significant aggravating factors. Chief among these factors is that the offences did not arise from a momentary lapse in judgment, they were the result of a fraudulent scheme perpetrated over many months. The fraudulent scheme began when the Student’s agent submitted fraudulent transcripts on her behalf to the University. The Student gained acceptance to the University based on those fraudulent transcripts and sought credit for courses she had not taken at SFU. With the help of her former boyfriend, she submitted course outlines for courses in order to get credit for the fictitious SFU courses. The Student went back and forth with University administrators many times in her ongoing attempt to obtain transfer credits for courses she had not taken. In determining the sanctions, the Panel also noted the Student’s admission that she would have carried on with the scheme through to graduation had she not been caught.
The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a five-year suspension; recommendation that the Student be expelled as per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of Code; removal of 5.00 transfer credits; permanent notation on academic record; and report to the Provost for a publication with the Student’s name withheld.