Student Won’t Be Expelled Over Facebook Study Group

    March 19, 2008

A freshman at Ryerson University in Toronto has been cleared of cheating allegations for setting up a Facebook study group and will not be expelled from school.

A disciplinary panel at Ryerson has ruled that first year engineering student Chris Avenir should not be expelled for being the administrator of a Facebook study group for chemistry started last fall and has restored his passing grade in the course.

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In a seven-page ruling, the engineering faculty appeals committee found no proof the Facebook group led to cheating. The committee did say the site provided "the potential for large-scale cheating," and that Avenir will receive a zero for 10 percent of his grade, which won’t affect his passing grade. He will also have to attend a workshop on academic integrity.

"I’m really relieved – it’s good news, and I guess I’ll be more attentive to (misconduct) policies when my name is on the line – even though I don’t really have any regrets about the Facebook group," Avenir told the Toronto Star.

"We’re very excited Chris won’t be expelled and this is very good news for students who want to use Facebook to study," said Nora Loreto, head of Ryerson Students’ Union.

Technology dean James Norrie said the ruling showed "due process works" and hoped the case "will spark broader debate on these deep issues."

"Are we Luddites here at Ryerson? No, but our academic misconduct code says if work is to be done individually and students collaborate, that’s cheating, whether it’s by Facebook, fax or mimeograph."