Sydney Union rearranges controversial criminal law exam

A controversial take-home exam for the University of Sydney's second-year law students was withdrawn on Thursday and will be rearranged at the end of the month after a student complained about his first name being used in his original paper.

Freya Leach, 19, complained about the task of using her first name for a character who killed a left-wing victim in a hit-and-run, had unprotected sex despite being HIV-positive and was thrown out the window of her death.

Leach wrote to the principal of the law school to express his sadness about the question of criminal law matters, which he said used his first name and "characterized me as a right-winger who kills left-wingers".

The university yesterday informed students that take-away assignments that were issued on Friday afternoons and which were supposed to be completed on Sundays would be revoked.

Criminal law coordinator Tanya Mitchell emailed students Wednesday afternoon to let them know that the original assignment had been the subject of "considerable discussion and debate on social media" after it was reported in the mainstream media.

"Unfortunately, the integrity of the assessment has been compromised, and it has become necessary for us to withdraw and replace the assessment," he said. “This replacement assessment will be problem-based and test the same learning outcomes as the short release assignment, and will be treated as the original assignment.”

All students will be automatically enrolled in a substitute take-home exam to be released at 9am on November 28, which will be completed 48 hours later.

“We understand that many students have dedicated a significant amount of time to short release assignments, and sympathize with and understand your frustrations,” Mitchell said. “However, universities and law schools place a high value on the integrity of judgment, which is critical to maintaining the good reputation of our qualifications for graduates, the legal profession, and society.” The original criminal law paper presents the scenario of the crime of homicide. where one victim was targeted because of their ideologically ambiguous political views. In question, the "right wing" Freya killed the victim in a hit-and-run while driving her Mercedes-Benz. After the accident, she had unprotected sex, despite being HIV-positive, with a male friend with a similar conservative ideological background. The character is then pushed to his death from a high window by the male friend's drunken fiancé.

The take-home exam, made at law school, also uses the first names of four other students in the criminal law group, including two in Freya's tutorial class of about 30 students. There are 492 second year criminal law students.

Leach said colleagues at law school had contacted him with concerns about his well-being "because they all read the paper clearly referring to me".

A University of Sydney spokesman said the fictional characters in the exam scenarios were "in no way intended to refer to or describe real-life people, and the use of first names shared by students is entirely coincidental".

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