Case 1137

DATE: May 18, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. B.C.

HEARING DATE: February 17, 2021, via Zoom

Panel Members:
Mr. Nader Hassan, Chair
Dr. Maria Rozakis-Adcock, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Yerin Lee, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP

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

Not in Attendance:
The Student

The Student was charged under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that he knowingly obtained unauthorized assistance in connection with a final exam. In the alternative, the Student was charged under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code on the basis that the Student knowingly did or omitted to do something to engage in a form of cheating, academic dishonesty or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain academic credit or other academic advantage in a course.  

Neither the Student nor a legal representative of the Student appeared at the hearing. The hearing took place based on an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) signed by the Student and Assistance Discipline Counsel. The ASF noted that the Student did not wish to participate in the proceedings and requested that the Tribunal proceed in his absence. The Student acknowledged that he understood that the Tribunal may find that he committed an act, or acts, of misconduct and may impose sanctions in accordance with the Code and that the University Tribunal is not bound by the terms of the joint submission on penalty.

Along with the ASF, the parties submitted a Joint Book of Documents (“JBD”). The ASF outlined that the Student admitted that he knew that he was not permitted to have anyone assist him in the final assessment; he asked a third-party to provide him with unauthorized assistance in the final assessment; he offered to pay the third-party for their assistance; he attempted to convince the third-party to provide unauthorized assistance after they had decline; and that he was guilty of attempting knowingly to obtain unauthorized assistance for the final assessment. After hearing the submission of counsel for the University as well as reviewing the ASF and JBD, the Panel concluded that the charge of unauthorized assistance had been proven with clear and convincing evidence on a balance of probabilities and accepted the guilty plea of the Student. As a result of this finding, the University withdrew the alternative charge under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.

The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”) prior to the hearing. The Panel received submissions from the University that indicated that a JSP should only be rejected if the joint submission on penalty is contrary to the public interest or would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, in accordance with the Discipline Appeals Board (“DAB”) decision in University of Toronto and M. A. (Case No. 837, December 22, 2016). The Panel took into consideration the seriousness of the offence and that the Student offered another student money in exchange to obtain unauthorized assistance in an exam. The offer of money in exchange for participating in an act of academic dishonesty is an aggravating factor. The Panel noted the Provost’s submission that the sanction sought took into account some mitigating factors. First, the offence was an attempt, rather than a complete offence and second, the Student’s cooperation and entering into the ASF and JSP shows insight and remorse. The Panel, having regard for the DAB decision, the aggravating factor, and the University’s submission that the JSP takes into account the mitigating factors, determined that there is no evidence to suggest that the JSP would be unreasonable and unconscionable. Therefore, the Panel accepted the penalty proposed by the JSP. The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a final grade of zero in the course; a four-year suspension; a five-year notation on the transcript; and a report to the Provost for a publication.