An entire class of second-year nursing students at Brandon University is facing disciplinary action over a final exam the school has deemed "compromised."
"There is strong evidence to corroborate the fact that the 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course (Fall term, test II, Final Exam) was compromised by a large number of students," reads a letter from the dean of the faculty of health studies at BU to the class.
The letter was given to the Sun by a source who wished to remain anonymous.
"Please be aware that any further acts of academic dishonesty and/or misconduct will result in more severe penalties being imposed," the letter continued.
According to the university, there were between 46 and 48 students enrolled in the course in question, taught by Dr. Ali Salman.
Students have the option of retaking the exam with a penalty applied to make it so that the maximum possible attainable mark is 70 per cent. If after the retaken exam a student believes that the penalty was too harsh, they can file an appeal.
They are also able to appeal the discipline altogether, but risk receiving a grade of zero on the exam in the event their appeal is denied.
Penalties for academic dishonesty at Brandon University for cheating include receiving a mark of zero, receiving a failing grade for the course, being expelled or suspended from the school, class or school team and receiving a permanent mark of academic dishonesty on a transcript.
"Brandon University is committed to maintaining academic integrity," the university wrote in a statement provided to the Sun. "The value of every BU degree is built on meeting a common standard of knowledge and behaviour. Integrity is especially critical in a field like health care, where trust relationships are central.
"Recently, Brandon University learned that a final exam in a nursing class was compromised by a large number of students. Academic dishonesty is always subject to penalties on a scale appropriate to the level of the infraction, possibly including a grade of F and a permanent mark of Academic Dishonesty on a student’s transcript.
"Given the circumstances of this particular case, BU has worked with the faculty member, the students’ union and the students in the class to fairly and appropriately deal with this serious infraction."
According to the university’s policy on academic dishonesty posted on its website, there are several steps an instructor accusing a student of dishonesty has to go through.
The instructor must inform a student they are being accused in writing and set up a meeting to discuss the matter. The department chair or dean may be present for this meeting.
If the student admits to dishonesty, they will discuss an appropriate punishment for the action. If the punishment is agreed upon by both parties, it will be forwarded to the appropriate dean for review.
When an instructor and student agree on guilt but do not agree on a punishment, the matter is sent to the department chair for them to mediate an appropriate punishment which will then be reviewed by the dean.
In the case of a student being accused of dishonesty by a professor and not admitting guilt, a subcommittee is formed to adjudicate the matter.
Students who receive a penalty for dishonesty by a dean or the school’s president can file an appeal to the university’s senate.
The Sun reached out to Whitney Hodgins, the vice-president internal at Brandon University Students’ Union, for comment, but she declined to speak on the matter.
Multiple attempts were made to speak with members of the class, but no requests for comment were returned.
If any students would like to come forward to speak on the matter, please contact Sun education reporter Colin Slark at email@example.com or by phone at 204-571-7444.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
Editor's Note: Looking for students
We would like to round out this story by speaking with students who have been affected by the administration's decision, and hear from students their version of what took place to cause this situation in the first place. At this point students have been reluctant to come forward. If any students would like to speak on the matter, please contact Sun education reporter Colin Slark at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 204-571-7444. We will keep your names anonymous if you so wish.