Student expelled over a study group on Facebook

March 12, 2008

A Ryerson University student is in danger of being expelled for his role in a study group organized in Facebook. Chris Avenir 18 years old studying computer engineering at Ryerson University.

Chris Avenir

Charges:

Academic misconduct for helping run an online chemistry study group via Facebook last term, where 146 classmates shared tips on homework questions that counted for 10% of their mark. He administrated of the Facebook group “Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions” 146 students from Ryerson’s first year chemistry class. Avenir joined the online chemistry study group “Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions” last fall, then took charge of it as an administrator. The group was named after a study room known by students as the Dungeon. The group page was taken down last week!

The professor who taught the chemistry course gave Avenir a “F” after he found out about the facebook group. Before that, he had given Avenir a “B.” One of the comments posted by a reader to the article on cbc.ca stated that Avenir requested that solutions be posted on the “Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions” facebook group. His intention was to have solutions available to everyone in the group. When solutions are posted it is simple on others to copy\paste the solution then hand-in the assignment. For presenting someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism Avenir should face facing expulsion. He says he never posted any answers on the discussion pages.
I find it useful when I meet with my classmates at the library or Tim Hortons to look over a problem or assignment. In addition, we use instant messaging (MSN) and Facebook a huge benefit for us but now a Ryerson student is being threatened with expulsion for using Facebook in just such a way. This seems like a mistake to me, and not something I would expect from an institution as supposedly progressive as Ryerson. I created a group for my “Organizational Behavior” class and added my group members to communicate and solve case-group projects assigned by our professor NOT to post answers and share them with 100 students. I find facebook helpful when it comes to virtual study-groups especially when one of your group members cannot attend a group meeting because of work or other reasons.

Action:

March 11th, 2008 Avenir appealed the count of academic misconduct for helping run the group and 146 counts, one for each classmate who used the site. Chris Avenir won’t hear for up to 5 days whether he will be expelled for allegedly cheating on a Facebook study group.

Ryerson University is looking into updating the student code, recognizing that there are things like Facebook, YouTube on the web,” said President Sheldon Levy. The proposed changes would also give the school the power to punish students for infractions that happen off campus, if they’re using the Ryerson name at the time. The policy has been presented to Senate, there’s a month until it gets voted on. Some are fighting the policy by getting gangs of students to come to Senate and sign a petition.

The Chemistry professor assigned each student in the course slightly different questions to prevent cheating, she said, and she did not see evidence of students doing complete solutions for each other. Instead, she said, they would brainstorm about techniques.

Sarah Boesveld Published Facebook decision pending March 13th, 2008

Chris Avenir won’t hear for up to 5 days whether he will be expelled for allegedly cheating on a Facebook study group. Avenir is the only member of the Facebook group charged with academic misconduct on the Internet and supporters have started a petition and website www.chrisdidntcheat.com to raise awareness about Avenir’s case and are selling “Chris Didn’t Cheat” T-shirts and hats. He is still attending classes pending his hearing!

Student Support:

Avenir’s friend Leo Chan created a Facebook group called Support Chris Avenir . By press time, the page so far has 1,985 members and 260 wall posts. The group page gained nearly 300 supporters within the first 24 hours of its existence. And Avenir’s lawyer, John Adair, offered to represent him after joining the group himself.

Support for Avenir has gone so far as to include the creation of the website www.chrisdidntcheat.com by Davin Carey, a student at San Diego State University in California. Carey set up his website by linking visitors to a few of the many articles on Avenir’s case, and urges people to buy a T-shirt or button from his online store.

For more updates on the story:

ryersonline.ca

Support Chris Avenir

“Is Avenir guilt? will find-out tomorrow!!”

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3 Responses to “Student expelled over a study group on Facebook”

  1. wattsy Says:

    good post, It’s crazy how they would actually expell him for creating a facebook group. This is an example of how todays technology can have a negative impact for people. Hopefully he won’t get expelled.

  2. mellaz Says:

    UPDATE:

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    First-year Ryerson student Chris Avenir will not be expelled from the Toronto university for running a study group on Facebook.

    http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=b545e1a0-ebfb-4662-934e-f42c16bb4a83

  3. wattsy Says:

    I think they made the right decision of not expelling the student. This case probably will set a precedent for future cases like this.


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