Case 1138

DATE: May 27, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. S.T.

HEARING DATE: March 1, 2021, via Zoom

Panel Members:
Ms. Sabrina Bandali, Chair
Dr. Pascal van Lieshout, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Yusra Qazi, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Mr. Daniel Walker, Representative for the Student, Bobila Walker Law LLP

In Attendance:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

Not in Attendance:
The Student

On three occasions, the Student was charged under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that she knowingly represented an idea or expression of an idea or work of another as her own in two essays and an exam to obtain an academic credit. She was charged alternatively under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code for these three offences. 

The parties provided an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) and a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”). The Student pled guilty to all six charges, inclusive of the alternative charges. The Panel was satisfied that the Student’s admissions were voluntary, informed, and unequivocal. The Panel noted that the ASF outlined that the Student submitted two essays and an exam that were copied verbatim or near verbatim from outside sources. The ASF also outlined that the one of the Student’s essays and the exam returned an Originality Report from Turnitin of 31% and 29%, respectively. The ASF also outlined that the Student, accompanied by counsel, attended a meeting with the Dean’s Designate (“Dean’s Meeting”). The Panel noted that during the Dean’s Meeting the Student admitted that she plagiarized the two essays and the exam. Based on the admission of the Student, the evidence, and supporting documentation contained within the ASF, the Panel accepted the guilty plea with respect to the three charges under s. B.i.1(d) of the Code. The University withdrew the alternative charges. 

In determining sanction, the Panel noted that in accordance with the guidance in the Discipline Appeals Board decision in The University of Toronto and M. A. (Case No. 837 - Appeal, December 22, 2016), a JSP may be rejected only in circumstances where the penalty is contrary to the public interest, or it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Panel found that the JSP in this case was reasonable. Furthermore, the Panel considered the factors and principles relevant to sanction set out in University of Toronto and Mr. C (Case No. 1976/77-3, November 5, 1976). The Panel considered the serious nature of the offence and the fact that this was not the Student’s first academic offence. Balanced against these factors is the Student’s cooperation in the process and signing the ASF and JSP, which shows insight and that she is taking responsibility for her actions. The Student’s admission of guilt and expression of remorse for her actions along with her personal challenges during the period leading up to and including the commission of the offences were also considered in relation to factors relevant to sanction. Having regard to all these factors, the Panel accepted the penalty outlined in the JSP. The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a final grade of zero in all three courses; a three-and-a-half-year suspension; a three-and-a-half-year notation on the transcript; and a report to the Provost for publication.