Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Right Decision: Ryerson Student Spared Expulsion

Recently a student from Ryerson University Canada was faced with the possibility of expulsion over a Facebook group concerned with a first year chemistry course.

( Story shown at: http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=526c73cd-ab4b-4765-ac28-40f2244c71b9&sponsor=Xerox )

The student Chris Avenir had been an administrator of the Facebook group and the group members had used the group to share answers to assignment questions, and talk about the Chemistry course that Avenir was enrolled in. All the trouble started when the professor teaching the course found the group and brought it to the attention of the university. Avenir was given an F in the chemistry course, and faced being expelled from the university.

The problem here is fairly blatant, and two-fold. Avenir was attacked by the university because he was the administrator, but did not post any of the 'answers' to assignments from the chemistry course. Secondly, Facebook is a social networking site, and if the students didn't socialize on Facebook, they probably would have done so in study groups. Avenir could not control what other people posted on the site, just as he wouldn't have been able to stop someone from announcing the answers if they meet in a study group.

The reaction to the Facebook group by the university is very proposterous. If the professor didn't want people to work together than he shouldn't have given out a 'take home' assignment. Instead the assignment should have been issued as an in-class assignment or quiz.

It is good that Avenir is not being expelled for his creation of a Facebook group, and it shows how weak Ryerson's case against him really was. Avenir was only acting on his right of free speech, he created a group but didn't specifically state that it was for "sharing answers for chemistry assignments, that we are supposed to complete on our own." He just created a group, people joined, and they posted what they wanted. Isn't that free speech? And I'm fairly sure there is no law against free speech is there (although I have been stuck in the library studying for the past few days, I could be out of touch with reality)? A person could have announced the answers to the chemistry assignment over a megaphone on university property, and if Avenir was the owner of the megaphone, would be disciplined??? Probably not, it would be the person that announced the answers!

So, this seems like a small win for the lowly university student. Although, Avenir has to take a course on "academic integrity" and have a "disciplinary notice placed on his transcript." I personally do not think that his punishments were necessary, but I guess Ryerson had to keep up their image of a university strongly against 'supposed' academic dishonesty.

3 comments:

Brian said...

I think the main point is missed here and that is the fact that the students are getting together and learning the required material. Doesn't sound to me like they were cheating. It is what they say it is and that is a "study group". I have been in many study groups and one of the things we did was compare answers and discuss our conclusions amongst each other. Something tells me that the professor has issues with technology and not necessarily issues with students conducting organized studies.

DC said...

I totally agree with you. I have also been in study groups, and we have helped each other with tough problems that on our own we couldn't answer.

Like you said, seems like this professor has a problem with technology. I still can't believe he faced expulsion for this.

The professor should know that students are going to get together and socialize, exchange answers, etc.

Journey_of_Life said...
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