Case 1141

DATE: July 16, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. M.H. ("the Student")

HEARING DATE: April 19, 2021, via Zoom

Panel Members:
Ms. Erin Dann, Chair
Professor Lynne Howarth, Faculty Panel Member
Mr. Branden Cave, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Mr. Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Sonia Patel, Articling Student, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Jean-Pierre D'Angelo, Downtown Legal Services, Representative for the Student

Hearing Secretary:
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 she knowingly used or possessed an unauthorized aid, namely, index cards which contained information relevant to the course during a make-up test. In the alternative, the Student knowingly engaged in a form of cheating, academic dishonesty or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain academic credit or other academic advantage, contrary to s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.

The Student did not attend the hearing; however, their representative attended on their behalf. At the outset of the hearing, the Panel sought confirmation from the Student’s representative whether he had instructions to proceed without the Student. The Student’s representative confirmed that he had instructions to proceed in the Student’s absence. The University and the Student submitted an Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”) and Joint Book of Documents (“JBD”). The ASF and JBD explained that the Student had received permission to write a make-up test for the course and was not permitted to have any aids with her during the test. The Student asked a question of the invigilator at which time the invigilator turned to the cover page of the test booklet to answer the Student’s question and the index cards slid out of the test paper. The Student admitted that she prepared the index cards and that they contained material relevant to the course and the make-up test. The Student further admitted that she knew she was not permitted to have index cards with her during the make-up test. The Panel found that the evidence contained in the ASF and JBD provide a clear basis for a finding of guilt, on a balance of probabilities. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the first charge had been proven and accepted the guilty plea of the Student in respect to the charge under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The University withdrew the alternative charge.

The Panel received a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”). The Panel noted that, as set out in The University of Toronto and M. A. (Case No. 837, December 22, 2016), a joint submission on penalty can only be rejected in circumstances in which it would be contrary to public interest or would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Panel considered the nature of the offence, the detriment to the University, the need to deter other students from acting in a similar manner, the character of the Student, and the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence. The Panel noted that this offence is serious; cheating on a test is profoundly unfair to other students. Moreover, this was not the Student’s first offence, but the Panel also considered that the Student admitted guilt at the earliest opportunity and cooperated throughout the process, including entering into the ASF and JSP. All of these taken together demonstrate insight and remorse. In light of all the circumstances, the submissions of the parties and the cases provided in support of the JSP, the Panel determined that the penalty sought in the JSP was appropriate and reasonable. The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a final grade of zero in the course; a three-year suspension; a notation on the transcript for just over 48 months; and a report to the Provost for publication.