After a Brandon University nursing class’s final exam was deemed "compromised," several sources have come forward to claim the university is misrepresenting what took place.
Earlier this week, Faculty of Health Sciences dean John Moraros wrote a letter to students saying 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."
The exam took place at the end of November, but Moraros met with students on Monday to announce their punishment.
As per Moraros’s letter, all students in the class are being punished for academic dishonesty by being made to rewrite the exam, with a penalty lowering the maximum attainable mark to 70 per cent. Students were scheduled to retake the exam today.
Since The Brandon Sun first reported on this story in Thursday’s newspaper, 14 sources have approached the Sun independently to describe what happened from the students’ point of view.
Some of them said they were parents or relatives of students in the class, others said they were friends of students in the class and some of them said they are students in the class in question.
Everyone who came forward to the Sun either refused to give their name or requested anonymity, saying they feared that students in the class would be punished further if anyone spoke out.
"I’m just worried about giving out my name because we’ve been disciplined so harshly," said a woman calling the Sun claiming to be a student. "I want my voice to be heard but I’m scared. I don’t know who to trust right now."
An email sent to the Sun via proxy by someone claiming to be a student said: "I don’t want my name used anywhere and want to remain completely anonymous for fear of retaliation."
Most of the sources said that many of the students in the class used a study guide publicly available online and that the professor for the class pulled exam questions from this same study guide.
Someone claiming to be related to a member of the class said that this guide was found on a website called testbankworld.org.
Another source, who claimed they had spoken with multiple members of the class, said that this guide was found by searching the Internet with the phrase "nursing foundations II test questions." The Sun was able to find nursing study guides on testbankworld.org by searching that phrase on Google.
"For the final exam, one of them found what they thought looked like a good study guide and shared it with his/her study group," read an email from someone claiming to be a student. "It was just a study guide. They had no way of knowing that lazy prof would use an easily accessible study guide as his final exam."
"From what I understand, the testbank that was purchased, it was in reference to the textbook used in the class," said a woman calling the Sun claiming to be a student. "The professor used an online test bank word for word."
Three emails were sent to the Sun by people who said they were friends with people in the class or that they had spoken with members of the class, one sent anonymously and the other two requesting anonymity.
All three said that the students used a publicly available test bank and that the professor drew exam questions from the same source.
On Friday, BU spokesperson Grant Hamilton declined to comment on whether the professor used an online test bank for his final exam. "That’s not my understanding of what happened, but we’re not going to get into the specifics of what we believed happened at this point," he said.
Hamilton was also asked if the university considers using online test banks cheating. "It think it would depend on the specifics," he said. "I can’t say. Certainly, there’s a lot of things online. You couldn’t download an essay and claim it as your own."
The Sun asked Hamilton to be connected with the instructor of the class for an interview, but that request was denied. Other attempts to contact the professor on Friday afternoon by phone and email were not successful.
Hamilton was also asked if students had been threatened with further punishment if they filed an appeal, as a number of sources have also claimed. "No, that’s categorically false," he said. "I can’t imagine there would be anything like that."
A Facebook user claiming to be a representative of the class sent a Sun reporter a message on Thursday stating the following: "Accusations made describe a false narrative. The students are pursuing next steps to resolve the matter."
» Twitter: @ColinSlark