ANONYMOUS WEBSITE HELPS STUDENTS EVADE DETECTION

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By Dominique Lamberton

A new website will provide an anonymous way for students to study online, and it was all inspired by the Ryerson student who almost got expelled for running a Facebook study group.

Thornhill-based web designer Evgeny Kalashnikov, 18, is the creator of www.thestudygroups.com. He said he’d been thinking about creating a website like this for a while, and hearing about Chris Avenir motivated him to make it happen.

“Expelling someone for a study group is nonsense,” he said.

A lack of anonymity was part of what got Avenir into trouble — the creator of the controversial group escaped punishment by using an account with a fake name.

Kalashnikov’s site functions like Facebook: users have a list of friends, with whom they can share information and files, including PDFs and PowerPoint presentations. Students pick aliases, allowing them to hide their identities from any profs who might be snooping on the site.

Users will also be able to upload files anonymously.

“The anonymity concept is not the most important thing, sharing stuff with your friends privately, that’s the most important part of it,” Kalashnikov said.

However, some are wary that Kalashnikov’s new site might open them up to accusations of cheating and land them in hot water.

“After everything with Facebook and Chris [Avenir], I would stay clear of it for a while,” said Patrick Bahen, a first year mechanical engineering student.

Michael Camancho, a first-year aerospace engineering student, added that using the site might not be as effective as studying the old-fashioned way.

“It seems like kind of a hassle, it takes a lot longer to study if you have to upload and download things,” he said.

Kalashnikov, however, said his website does not constitute cheating.

“If it was a cheating website, I would have called it thecheatinggroups.com,” he said. “I think people will just realize how easy it is to share their knowledge. It simplifies things and I think teachers and professors themselves will see this and eventually start to use the site too.”

So far, more than 5,000 people from 18 universities across the province have registered with the site. Kalashnikov has promoted the new site through Facebook.

Ryerson’s academic integrity officer could not be reached for comment, and Stalin Boctor, dean of engineering, said he doesn’t know enough about the site to comment.

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