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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: Cheating?
By eye smite on 3/23/2008 6:39:38 PM , Rating: 5
I don't imagine this was the first time this has been done at any University. In fact I know it isn't. So in reality what we're dealing with is the petty, narrow minded ego of the professor because they didn't get his if they needed it. Teachers and professors in my experience are small minded people with little knowledge of how the real world works. Can anyone here tell me in any job you've worked where team work was not important? Yet it would seem teamwork in college is cheating. Yep, I stick by the narrow minded professors statement.

RE: Cheating?
By bety on 3/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: Cheating?
By Murst on 3/24/2008 10:25:56 AM , Rating: 1
Teachers and professors in my experience are small minded people with little knowledge of how the real world works

I'd say you're probably in a really bad high school. I can't imagine a university that would hire teachers with "little knowledge" of the jobs they're preparing you for.

The university I went to isn't really cosidered among the top in the program I graduated in (CS), but the teachers most certainly did have a very good understanding of how the jobs work. This was even more apparent in classes outside of my major.

RE: Cheating?
By blaster5k on 3/24/2008 10:40:16 AM , Rating: 2
I saw a mix in my college days. Some have actually worked for companies before and understand how things work in the real world. Others have been relegated to academia most of their lives and focus more on abstract concepts and researching things they think are "cool". I found the former were a heck of a lot more useful in preparing me for my career.

RE: Cheating?
By eye smite on 3/24/2008 10:50:59 AM , Rating: 4
Here's a quote from a post further down the thread.....

At my university in Australia (UOW), Team Work is drummed into us! and almost all my subjects require teams to form in some way.

Recently I created a study group for a statistics class and when my professor found out she actually welcomed it and asked if someone she knew was struggling could join in.

and with that post, I rest my case....

RE: Cheating?
By teldar on 3/24/2008 11:00:45 AM , Rating: 1
I'd say you're probably in a really bad high school. I can't imagine a university that would hire teachers with "little knowledge" of the jobs they're preparing you for.


I think you should come out of your hole and see the way things are. I've gone from an engineering program in a top engineering University in the U.S. to nursing at a community college, nursing at a private school, and now am in a Nurse Anesthetist program at one of the top schools in the country.

I have had HORRIBLE teachers everywhere I have been. I don't know that the engineering professors were bad at Michigan, but many of the science professors didn't have any idea how the world worked outside of academia.

Then, if you want to talk about teachers who have not seen the workplace in a few years, find an OLD nursing instructor. Someone who's been in teaching for 20-30 years in the classroom portion of the course. They don't have a clue.

And the regular college of nursing courses in an anesthesia program? All I can say is that some of them probably think we should stand around thinking about nursing theory instead of taking care of the patients.

Maybe YOUR courses were different, but I can tell you there are too many people who have been in academia for too long and don't seem to understand who the world really is.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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