Keyano not budging after students protest failed grades, academic misconduct

College leadership and Keyano’s student association not endorsing changing academic integrity policies or grades because of the protests.

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Keyano College’s leadership says it will not change any grades after about 50 international students, most of whom are in the early learning and child care program, protested their failed grades and academic misconduct charges last week.

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Jay Notay, Keyano’s CEO and president, said in an interview the protests last Thursday and Friday rattled staff and disrupted classes at Keyano College. Wood Buffalo RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Sabrina Clayton confirmed police were called to the college during both protests, but there were no arrests.

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“We’re not in a position to give them what they’re asking for because it’s compromising our academic integrity,” said Notay in an interview. “We have no issue with students demonstrating peacefully and they have every right to do that, as long as it’s peaceful and not impeding on the safety of our staff and community or interrupting college business.”

Notay says the academic misconduct charges include allegations of plagiarism, cheating and using ChatGPT on assignments. Some students demanded refunds, while others said they were entitled to a passing grade because they paid tuition.

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Notay is sympathetic to the struggles of adapting to Canada and the academic pressures many students face. He also said Keyano has guidelines for students with academic concerns. However, Notay said Keyano will not change any grades because of protests.

“We encourage them to take advantage of the systems we have in place for them. They need to talk about their individual situations with the right people,” said Notay. “Even within the rules, there are solutions. They just don’t want to take that step. They want to meet as a group and that is not going to benefit every student.”

keyano
The Syncrude Technology Centre building on the Keyano College Clearwater campus in Fort McMurray Alta. on Sunday, April 19, 2020. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network SunMedia

Student association supports Keyano’s stance

Sheresee Miller, president of the Students’ Association of Keyano College (SAKC), said the association supports Keyano’s stance. SAKC is open to meeting with the protesters, but Miller said the association will not go against Keyano’s academic integrity policies.

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“The association has been and is willing to work with students with legitimate issues. We, however, will not be party to what seeks to compromise the integrity of the program and, by extension, the institution and the college,” said Miller in an interview.

“Students will have to face the consequences if these actions are actually taking place: cheating, plagiarism and misrepresentation are all things we are not in agreement with.”

Miller said SAKC supports Keyano’s stance on the position and called many of their requests “unreasonable.” SAKC is open to meeting with protesters, but Miller said the association will not go against Keyano’s academic integrity policies or support disruptions.

“Students will have to face the consequences if these actions are actually taking place: cheating, plagiarism and misrepresentation are all things we are not in agreement with,” said Miller. “If that is the case, they have to go through the process to clean their records and get back on track with their program.”

A similar protest happened earlier this year in Ontario at Algoma University’s Brampton campus. The college offered a make-up exam after a group of international students protested failed grades in a computer science course. Other students were passed after university staff reviewed how the course was graded. The university denies any grades were changed because of protests.

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