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A number of groups sprung up on Facebook in support of Chris Avenir, unsurprisingly.  (Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech)
School decides not to take away student's freedom to obtain a college education

Early this month news broke of a wild expulsion hearing at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.  While students normally are expelled for indiscreetly copying their friends solutions during an exam, plagiarizing others work, or other such gaffs the Ryerson student, Chris Avenir a first year chemical engineering student, was just trying to engage in what he thought was a beneficial and harmless student practice -- creating a study group.

Avenir created a group on Facebook known as "Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions," named after the study room nicknamed "The Dungeon."  The group allowed students to share advice on homework questions, exchange questions from past tests, and speculate on what might be asked on upcoming tests.  At its maximum, the group helped 147 students.

Soon, however, Avenir's chemistry professor caught onto Avenir's efforts to help his fellow students and they weren't happy.  They not only changed Avenir's grade from a B to an F, but also recommended him for expulsion, putting him up on 147 counts of academic misconduct.

Fortunately, justice prevailed and Ryerson's academic conduct committee ruled last Tuesday not to expel Avenir.  They informed the 18-year-old that while he would not be expelled, he would receive a zero failing grade on the assignment portion of the class, as per the professor's discretion.  The assignment portion was worth ten percent of the total grade, but Avenir still passed the class easily.

Avenir could not be reached for comment, but may decide to appeal the decision as per the school's rules if he feels the failing assignment grade was unfair.  Overnight, Avenir became a celebrity and a poster child for the debate over the legitimacy of online study groups.  Advocates say there is no difference between online groups and school-sponsored tutoring programs, which often have old copies of tests, and will assist students in solving homework problems.  Critics state that helping students access materials not given by the professor or solve problems is cheating, plain and simple.

Avenir's advocates still aren't satisfied with the ruling, but appreciate that it marks a victory for their views.  Says Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students' Union, "Chris in our view is still innocent, so it is still too bad that he got zero for that 10 percent.  But considering we were facing expulsion I think this is a victory, certainly a broader victory for the students at Ryerson."

As per the ruling part of Avenir's punishment includes mandatory attendance in a academic misconduct workshop.

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RE: morons
By Wightout on 3/23/2008 2:00:03 PM , Rating: 3
What would give you the idea that this online study group has anything to do with memorizing answers? Knowing preivious test questions gives you a better idea of what the teacher expects you to know from the course. It allows for you to focus your studies.

Why any teacher would consider outside material a bad thing is beyond me (though with so many of them using thief own book for the course could explain something), every teacher I have had has more then encouraged me to scour the nets for a better understand of the course at hand.

RE: morons
By Doormat on 3/23/2008 2:17:32 PM , Rating: 3
Indeed, I had a chemistry teach who said, when asked about particular focus areas on the test and anything specific students should have covered throughly, he said "everything in the chapters the test covers". In those cases its very useful to look at past (the last several semesters/quarters) tests to see what the prof tested the students over.

Rampant paranoia about "the internets" is something most old people share.

RE: morons
By NickF001 on 3/23/2008 3:04:39 PM , Rating: 1
do you understand the concept of the reply??

"Basically same assignments, same tests as the previous years. You would be a moron if you did not use them as a resourse."

I am replying to the person in the chain before me.

RE: morons
By NickF001 on 3/23/2008 3:08:57 PM , Rating: 1
"Why any teacher would consider outside material a bad thing is beyond me (though with so many of them using thief own book for the course could explain something), every teacher I have had has more then encouraged me to scour the nets for a better understand of the course at hand"

did you even bother to read what I was saying and the thread I was replying to??

of course trying to understand the course material better is good, you to fail to comprehend that I am talking about studying test ANSWERS, which in NOT the same

RE: morons
By Wightout on 3/23/2008 4:14:16 PM , Rating: 2
While I will admit that my first statement was off base when it came to your post my second paragraph had nothing to do with your post, it was merely my $0.02 on the aticle.

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