By Emma Prestwich
Two engineering students are angry after they were given a notice of non-academic misconduct they say is groundless.
Komail Kanjee and Akul Goel were accused of non-academic misconduct by staff in the engineering support office Feb. 3 after staff discovered one student’s engineering department network account contained password information from the other’s account.
But both students said they did nothing wrong and weren’t told specifically how their actions violate school policy.
“No policy says that I’m not supposed to have someone’s password, it just says that I’m not supposed to use it, and I never used it,” said Kanjee.
Kanjee claims the actions of two staff members in the office constituted harassment, as well as a violation of school policies, the Canada Human Rights Code, and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Jason Naughton, lead engineer in the engineering support office, said he suspended both Goel and Kanjee’s departmental network accounts on Feb. 2 when he looked through computer logs and became suspicious that the two knew each other’s passwords.
The students’ accounts were locked for the full day, denying them access to their lab resources until Naughton confronted Kanjee when the student came into his office the next day.
“I asked the student whether he knew another student’s password. At that time, witnessed by two other support staff, the student indicated that he knew his friends password … I explained to him that the act of knowing another student’s network password is against departmental policy and the university’s policy,” he said in an email.
Kanjee said he and Goel were working on an assignment and Goel was logged into the network on his computer. Kanjee used the secure shell feature (SSH), which is similar to a computer command window, to log into his own account through Goel’s.
Brian Lesser, head of computing and communications services, said the feature lets students send the computer commands, such as to log into another account.
“In theory, you can issue a command to be the other user,” he said.
Goel said he doesn’t know how using the SSH feature violates departmental policy. Naughton said he told Kanjee his actions violated Policy 61 of the student code of non-academic conduct, which states that a violation of departmental policy is also a violation of the non-academic code.
He said he didn’t charge the two, just made note of what happened. While the notice won’t mean punishment for the students, Kanjee said he has asked the ombudsperson to conduct a fairness review of Naughton and another staff member, Daniel Giannitelli’s actions.
Goel said he and Kanjee also were forced to read a log of their actions and sign a document acknowledging the violation.
“They gave us a notice of nonacademic misconduct, which is not right, because they are not telling us what we have violated, and secondly, they’re just asking us to sign it, there’s no appeals,” said Goel.
Kanjee said he has spoken with student conduct officer Mickey Cirak, who said he will request the electrical engineering department to issue a new notice acknowledging that the staff made a mistake.