Chris Avenir, a first-year engineering student at Ryerson, won’t be expelled for his role in study group posted on the popular social networking site Facebook. Instead of expulsion, he will receive a zero on the assignment in question.
Avenir received notice Tuesday of the decision. He was charged with 147 counts of academic misconduct after starting a Facebook group where students shared information about homework assignments.
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Ryerson University officials could not comment on the case because of privacy issues. But the university did release a statement Tuesday afternoon that seemed to defend their position in punishing Avenir for his use of technology. “Ryerson distinguishes between the appropriate and inappropriate use of technology in an academic context. The University takes academic misconduct seriously, however and wherever it happens,” the statement reads.
James Norrie, director of the university’s school of information technology management, told the Globe and Mail that the Facebook angle has diverted attention away from the real issue. “As soon as you put the word Facebook onto an issue it seems to change the dynamic of the issue in terms of people’s reading of it and interest in it,” he said.
The case sparked an international debate about technology and academic honesty with news reports from as far away as Europe. In Canada, Avenir attracted national media attention including numerous stories in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and on CBC and CTV.