The University of Sydney is deliberating on how to manage student wellbeing and assessment integrity, following the leak of a short-release Criminal Law assignment yesterday.
Mainstream media outlets have published the assignment questions in full and the assignment period is ongoing. According to an email sent to students by the Unit Coordinator Dr Tanya Mitchell: “The University is currently considering how to protect both the integrity of the assessment process and student wellbeing.”
Mitchell also recognised the stress some students may be experiencing and promised to publish an update by day’s end.
“We understand that this is a difficult and frustrating time for all students in the cohort,” Mitchell said.
“We are canvassing all options, and will provide an update on the future of the assignment before the end of the day.”
News outlets covered the story of second-year USyd law student Freya Leach after she complained to the Faculty of Law about the exam unfairly using her first name in the exam questions.
“I am concerned because it is clearly intended to depict me,” Leach told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The questions make reference to a right-wing Freya killing ideologically ambiguous Adam Knowles in her Mercedes after thinking to herself “I’ll give that chardonnay socialist a fright.” In another question she has unprotected sex with someone while HIV-positive without disclosing this information. In the final one she is pushed out of a window, falling to her death.
Leach is involved in the NSW Liberal Party and Social Media Officer for the University of Sydney Conservative Club.
The University has stated any resemblance between students and those in the exam are coincidental. “The fictional character in the exam scenario was in no way meant to reference or depict a real-life person, and the use of any first names shared by students was entirely a coincidence,” a University spokesperson told Honi.
“We also apologised for any offence or distress caused, and let the student know how to make a formal complaint and access appropriate University student wellbeing support if she would like.
“Although it is always regrettable when an event disrupts an assessment while it is running, we are currently working through this incident to ensure high standards of integrity and academic rigour while also keeping student stress anxiety and disruption to a minimum.”
Nonetheless, the assignment brief clearly stated: “You must not discuss the assignment with other people during the assignment release period.”
Law students have been at the mercy of the Faculty’s integrity deliberations before. In 2013, a bomb threat forced an evacuation. Many students left the University believing they would have to re-sit the exam, but the Faculty decided there had been no integrity breach days later.
Honi has contacted Freya Leach for comment. We will update the article accordingly.
Editor’s Note: Comment from the University has been added.