T.O. student won't be expelled over Facebook group
Published Tuesday, March 18, 2008 6:23PM EDT
A first-year computer engineering student at Ryerson University will not be expelled for running a study group on the popular social networking website Facebook.
The Toronto university's faculty appeal hearing ruled Tuesday that 18-year-old Chris Avenir did not commit academic misconduct for helping run the online group.
Avenir had also been charged with 146 counts of academic misconduct for each classmate who used the website.
However, the teen will receive a 0 per cent on the assignments that the students discussed on Facebook, which could total 20 per cent of his final mark in one particular chemistry course.
The appeal committee also ruled a "DN" (disciplinary notice) will appear on the student's transcript and he will have to attend an academic integrity tutorial.
Because he is a first-year student, Avenir can appeal to have the notice on his transcript removed if he graduates without committing any academic misconduct.
Avenir didn't comment after the ruling, but was somewhat dejected with the outcome.
"I think he's still pretty disappointed because he worked hard on those assignments on those assignments, he did all of his assignments, he handed them all in on time," said Kim Neale, the Ryerson Students' Union advocacy co-ordinator.
"He's feeling a little bit disappointed but happy that he gets to stay in school."
Avenir was accused of using the site to help his classmates cheat on tests and assignments. Avenir said the group used the online forum to compare notes and share homework tips and questions.
He argued if what he did was cheating, then so is tutoring and all the mentoring programs the university runs.
Avenir's professor, however, stipulated the online homework questions were to be done independently and felt the actions violated the school's academic policies.
After his appeals hearing last week, Avenir said he was optimistic he would be exonerated. The students' union stood behind the student, calling the charges "outrageous and totally unwarranted."
Some Ryerson students also felt the charges were unfair.
"I'm definitely on the student's side," one young woman said on Tuesday before the ruling. "I don't think the Facebook group is anything different than a group of students getting together in a library to work together in person. It's the exact same thing, just one's online."
"I feel like (the school) is making an example of him," said another student. "Why should he have to take responsibility for all of the students that were involved in it as well?"
With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding