By Sandie Benitah
An aerospace engineering teacher is being accused of playing favourites after he let two students pass a text book back and forth during a mid-term exam.
According to witnesses, the teaching assistant saw what the two third-year students were doing and immediately asked them to stop.
After the students explained they were roommates and that they bought only one book to save money, the teaching assistant called the professor, Guangjun Liu, over to handle the situation. Liu let the students continue sharing the text as they finished the open-book test.
Sandro Leone, who was sitting next to one of the studemts, was outraged.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he said. “They were passing the book back and forth and speaking but the prof didn’t separate them.”
Upset because the commotion had distracted him from successfully completing the 50 minute test, he later asked Liu why the other students were allowed to do something that could be considered cheating.
“[Liu] then said to me that one of the students had just won an award and didn’t need to cheat,” said Leone, “and that the other guy had a medical condition. A medical certificate allows exemption. It does not allow a person to cheat!”
However, Liu’s version of what happened is slightly different.
“Since it was an open book test, I allowed the book sharing but insisted the book be checked by the invigilator before passing it to the other student,” he explained. “I would give my permission to any of the students to do the same if only the invigilation is manageable, but I have to rethink this for next time.”
The roommates are both international students from India. Karthic Narayan, 20, has a 4.31 GPA — the highest in the program. The other student, Godard, who uses only one name, is also 20 and has an impressive 3.6 GPA.
“We don’t need to cheat,” said Godad indignantly. “Look a t our records, we’re good students.”
“My conscience is clear,” said Narayan. “We haven’t done anything wrong.”
Narayan also said that after the mid-term, Liu spoke to him and informed him there were complaints from other students.
“He said that although he was sure we weren’t doing anything wrong, he asked us to sit separately for the finals,” explained Narayan.
Zouheir Fawaz, interim assistant dean of the engineering program and former director for the School of Aerospace Engineering, said sharing material during any kind of exam is never acceptable.
“This is not a good thing to do,” he said. “Although it’s an open book test, it’s still an independent study, not a shared or open discussion. As soon as there is sharing texts or notes, we pave the way for other things to happen.”
Although Fawaz said the incident probably happened because of “bad judgement on everyone’s part” rather than “bad intentions,” he also said he would look into the matter if anyone made an official complaint.
In the meantime, other students in the program are left wondering of their own fate if they too decided to exercise the same bad judgment.
“People shouldn’t be allowed to do that and if they are, then everyone should be able to,” said one girl who was sitting close to the pair but didn’t want to be named. “It’s unfair.”
“The professor seems him as a perfect student,” said another classmate who also didn’t want his name to be used. “It looks like he’s allowed to do whatever he wants. Would I be able to get away with it? I’d have to say no.”