Facebook 'Cheater' Won't Be Expelled From College

April 2008

TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- A Canadian university ruled Tuesday against expelling a first-year engineering student accused of cheating through an online study group on Facebook.

Chris Avenir's apparent exhortation to fellow Ryerson University engineering students to "input solutions" to assignment problems on the social networking site raised the ire of a professor.

On Tuesday, the 18-year-old was told that while he wouldn't be expelled he would receive a zero on the assignment section of the chemistry course, which was worth 10 percent of his final grade.

Despite that, Avenir still passed the course.

Avenir, who could not be reached for comment, can still appeal the decision.

The case captured headlines around the world, with bloggers debating whether Web postings constituted cheating.

"Chris in our view is still innocent, so it is still too bad that he got zero for that 10 percent," said Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students' Union."But considering we were facing expulsion I think this is a victory, certainly a broader victory for the students at Ryerson."

Last term, Avenir became administrator of the online group Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions. In all, 147 classmates used the group to swap tips on assignments.

Avenir's supporters argued the online group he ran was no different from any kind of homework help or tutoring circle. But a professor, who had stipulated assignments be done independently, discovered the group, gave the student an F and then charged him with academic misconduct.

Although a faculty appeals committee cleared Avenir of academic misconduct, he will have to attend an academic misconduct workshop.