DATE: February 27, 2019
PARTIES: University of Toronto v B.L.
Hearing Date: December 17, 2018
Ms. Roslyn M. Tsao, Chair
Professor Ken Derry, Faculty Member
Ms. Elizabeth Frangos, Student Member
Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel for University, Palaire Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Brittany Smith, Counsel for the Student, Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman
Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Trial Division – s. B.i.3(a) of Code – falsified academic record – student knowingly omitted information from application for admission to the University and from subsequent application for research grant, demonstrating propensity to re-offend – deliberate misrepresentation in student’s letter to admission committee – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea – definition of “academic record” includes application for admission and supporting documents – expulsion only practical remedy available – offence and detriment to University significant - threshold for departing from Joint Submission on Penalty very high - Joint Submission on Penalty accepted – recommendation that Student be expelled; immediate five-year suspension or until expulsion decision made, whichever is earlier; corresponding notation on transcript; and publication by Provost of notice of decision and sanctions with student’s name withheld.
The Student was charged with five counts of academic misconduct for falsifying evidence required by the University contrary to section B.i.1(a) of the Code, and for falsifying an academic record and engaging in academic dishonesty contrary to sections B.i.3(a) and (b) of the Code, respectively. The charges related to the Student’s application for admission to the University and to the Student’s application for an undergraduate research grant. Both applications omitted relevant information regarding the Student’s prior attendance at another post-secondary institution and the conferral of a degree from that institution. The Student did not attend the hearing, but was represented at the hearing by legal counsel.
The Panel found the Student guilty of violating section B.i.3(a) of the Code based on an Agreed Statement of Facts wherein the Student admitted to knowingly committing an academic offence by submitting a falsified academic record in his application for admission to the University. The Panel referred to the University’s “Policy on Access to Student Academic Records” to confirm that the definition of “academic record” includes a student’s application for admission to the University and supporting documents. The University withdrew all remaining charges.
The parties submitted a Joint Submission on Penalty recommending the Student be expelled from the University. In deciding whether to accept the Joint Submission on Penalty, the Panel noted that the Student had no prior academic misconduct at the University and had pleaded guilty at the hearing. However, the Panel found the Student’s denials prior to the hearing, and his “catch-me-if-you-can” attitude, mitigated against a finding of remorse from his guilty plea at the hearing. While assessing the Student’s character, the Panel highlighted deliberate misrepresentations made by the Student in a letter to the Admission Committee of the Computer Engineering Department. The Panel stated that this letter provided insight into the lengths to which the Student went to mislead the University. The Panel described the letter as “wholly designed” to create an impression that the Student was not in school when, in fact, he was actively pursuing a degree at another institution. The Panel found that the Student’s application for a research grant, filed after admission to the University, was an indicator of the Student’s propensity to re-offend. The Panel concluded that the nature of the offence and corresponding detriment to the University were significant because the place of another applicant had been usurped by the Student through his misleading and falsified application. The Panel stated that cases provided by the University demonstrated that the requested penalty was in the appropriate range of sanctions in similar circumstances. The Panel also stated that the threshold for departing from a joint submission on penalty was very high and required a finding that the acceptance of same would be contrary to the public interest and bring the administration of justice into disrepute. No such finding was made in this case.
The Panel accepted the parties’ Joint Submission on Penalty recommending the Student be expelled from the University. The Panel noted that expulsion was the only practical remedy available given that the Student’s application for admission was based on false information and the Panel had no jurisdiction to revoke his credits. In addition to the expulsion recommendation, the Panel also ordered the following sanctions: immediate five-year suspension or until the expulsion recommendation was accepted by the University, whichever came first; a corresponding notation on the Student’s academic record and transcript; and publication by the Provost of a notice of the decision and sanctions with the Student’s name withheld.