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Dozens Suspended In Harvard University Cheat Scandal

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Education 264

johnsnails writes "Around 60 students at Harvard University have been suspended and others disciplined in a mass cheating scandal at the elite college, the campus newspaper reports. The Harvard Crimson quoted an email from Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael Smith that said more than half of the cases heard by administrators in the scandal, which erupted last year, had resulted in suspension orders. 'After professor Matthew B. Platt reported suspicious similarities on a handful of take-home exams in his spring course Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress,” the College launched an investigation that eventually expanded to involve almost half of the 279 students enrolled in the course.'"

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264 comments

My Theory (5, Funny)

Javagator (679604) | about a year ago | (#42771489)

I guess all of these students were planning on going into politics.

Re:My Theory (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#42771551)

I know this is a joke, but it's more than relevant.

I am guessing the people getting off in this case are getting off more for lack of evidence rather than exoneration. Plus logic dictates that with this number of people it's not the first time it ever happened.

What upsets me most personally about the United States is that we've developed a culture where doing the right thing is NEVER rewarded and doing the WRONG thing usually is. We've got a political culture right now where a politician MUST be a huxster or they can't compete. The US Government does suck at every level, but it's an outgrowth of the sickness of the culture itself. Nice guys don't finish last; nice guys don't finish AT ALL.

Re:My Theory (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#42771765)

What upsets me most personally about the United States is that we've developed a culture where doing the right thing is NEVER rewarded and doing the WRONG thing usually is. We've got a political culture right now where a politician MUST be a huxster or they can't compete.

What on earth makes you think that's unique to the US?

Re:My Theory (4, Interesting)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | about a year ago | (#42771885)

GP never said it was unique to the US, sounded to me like it was just implied that was all the poster had experience with, rather than painting the entire world of politics with the same brush. Sounds rather sensible for someone named MickyTheIdiot!

Re:My Theory (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#42772445)

What on earth makes you think that's unique to the US?

People tend to think that everything like this is unique to it. Well once people get out into the real world and see what happens, they quickly realize that cheating happens everywhere. Or that a politician must be a huckster to compete, I'm guessing they've never seen european politics or canadian, or hell japanese. From my own neck of the woods, take a look at Dalton McGuinty probably one of the biggest liars, cheats and scum suckers since Bob Rae. And one that's successfully ensured that Ontario will be paying through the nose for electricity. Despite claiming that hydro prices will go down.

Re:My Theory (5, Insightful)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about a year ago | (#42771899)

we've developed a culture where doing the right thing is NEVER rewarded and doing the WRONG thing usually is.

I'd argue that it's not so much about right versus wrong, it's more about the end result trumping the method of getting there. A "win" is considered vindication of the means. If the means are "right" then that's great, but if the means are "wrong", it's too often considered OK to look the other way. The more rewarding the win, the more likely people are to overlook the wrong, especially if those who *should* be doing the looking stand to benefit from the win in the first place. Look at Lance Armstrong. Do you think *nobody* in his inner circle knew he was doping? Sure they did. But they also knew fame and fortune would come from Armstrong's wins, and they could bask in that to considerable benefit. Thus they became complicit.

In a perfect world, there would be ample benefits and public glorification of the person who came forward to expose cheating. Instead, they typically have everything to lose and very, very little to gain by doing so. Hence the culture of cheating prospers in sports, business, academia...pretty much anywhere the stakes are high enough.

Re:My Theory (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772281)

One of the problems with Capitalism is it can force Managers to compete with each other to screw everyone; their employee's, customers and ultimately the environment; the best. The classic method of constraining it has always been to involve government. For example; The Red Triangle fire resulted in 120 Americans dieing on the 8th floor of a high-rise factory floor from a fire that started on the 10th; the bosses surmised they only needed a few buckets of water in the corner, locked their workers in, and weren't around to let them out when the fire started. The result of this was a "general strike" and hundreds of laborers unionizing overnight as everyone came to the realization they were putting up with something they aught not to put up with.

The lesson here is, if management and labor don't work together, neither of them will be employed for long. The pride of management blinds them to the obvious dangers they place labor, and ultimately themselves, at, and labor if they follow management down the rabbit hole will lead inevitably and invariably to injury.

I work at a company run by lawyers, they're always fighting over the slightest nuance of communication instead of looking at what's really going on; a infrastructure built with products promised to last decades but because foreigners cut corners as there was no real repricussion for doing so, thus it is in decay. An entire generation retiring oblivious to the peril management has placed their pensions in. Men Dieing or getting injured in the field from too many hours of overtime worked. Managers putting in 16hr shifts because their managers need to feel like the lower managers are "with them". Accountants oblivious to all of the above.

Re:My Theory (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771943)

+1 your comment.

It's nothing new and certainly ingrained. In high school back in the 80's, pretty much everyone in my courses cheated (NMB Senior, Class of 88). I never once cheated, ever, and it was galling to watch them walk away week after week with A's and 100's even though I and many others knew that it was unearned. Even simple things -- an art class self portrait (the cheaters asked the more artistic folks to draw for them), a take home physics exam (Mr. Sturgelewski's class) was copied from person to person, a children's book in English class (someone even copied Curious George and handed it in) -- was not immune. These are the cheats and liars that are in business and law now.

Re:My Theory (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about a year ago | (#42772375)

Maybe we should have some reward for people who rat on cheaters. All the students seem to know who the cheaters are, but nobody wants to be a rat.

Re:My Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772249)

Why should anyone have to exonerate themselves? Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? Man, no wonder we're slipping further and further into fascism every day.

Re:My Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772255)

You've touched on a fine point about democracy, but its an important one. A certain number (and I don't have a very specific number for you), but at least 50% of elected public officials must have upstanding morals for a democracy to survive. It would be good to have a morals test given to politicians at uneven intervals to determine their level of morality (truth, honesty, etc.). All results are recorded publicly and posted without fail (and widely distributed). It can be something like letting them find a wallet someone has lost with a certain amount of money in it, and see if they turn it in with all money intact, that kind of thing. In countries where the common good takes second place to private interest (be it corporate or the interests of the politician), democracy fails. Note that these are general rules, and I'm not naming any country specifically. The problem with corporations is that they are *not* democratic, and their typical way of doing business "I want it, I want it now!" isn't the way democracy works, but they (corporations and democracies) have a common base of power (money) which leads one to corrupt the other. To have a strong democracy, you should isolate the first (political) from the other (corporate). Its like a separation of Church and State. When the Church had money, they corrupted politics (see European History from AD 300-AD1800). Now that corporations have all the money, they corrupt politics. Its only when huge numbers of people have money (middle class) does democracy work best for the most people.

Re:My Theory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772337)

You are 100% wrong.

Holder ran Fast and Furious, killing hundreds of Mexicans and a US border patrol agent. He, with Obama's help, covered the incident up as best as they could before Congress found out. Holder PROVABLE lied to Congress 3 times when testifying to them, was found in Contempt of Congress for not giving them requested information. NO ONE CARES. Holder has proven the the US government can kill hundreds of people, not even answer the most basic questions of what happened and the PEOPLE will call you a bigot if you point this out.

Clinton covered up the killing of an ambassador in Bengazi. When asked the simplest question of if she lied to Congress about it (Which she did) she cried and said "What difference does it make?". No more questions. More dead and an crying event and no one is held responsible.

Your "moral test" is worthless. The voters don't care, their people are always right no matter what they do including mass murder. If people don't care if governments kill by the hundreds, they won't care what they do with a found wallet.

Not sure why you are bashing companies, they don't put people on "secret death lists" without warrants and send drones out to kill them. Companies don't supply drug cartels with guns by the hundreds illegally to kill people. I can choose at any second to not do business with a company, I don't have the right to know if my government put me on a kill list, or to a trial before they send a drone out to kill me or arm a gang member to kill me.

Re:My Theory (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#42772299)

I know this is a joke, but it's more than relevant.

I am guessing the people getting off in this case are getting off more for lack of evidence rather than exoneration. Plus logic dictates that with this number of people it's not the first time it ever happened.

What upsets me most personally about the United States is that we've developed a culture where doing the right thing is NEVER rewarded and doing the WRONG thing usually is. We've got a political culture right now where a politician MUST be a huxster or they can't compete. The US Government does suck at every level, but it's an outgrowth of the sickness of the culture itself. Nice guys don't finish last; nice guys don't finish AT ALL.

The heartening result is that Harvard takes cheating seriously. They suspended about 60 students over it and a bunch of others are on probation -- probably because they couldn't prove those students cheated.

Re:My Theory (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#42772363)

I think it's a little more subtle than that. It's not that we reward wrong behavior. We simply don't really punish people in these kinds of situations enough to deter doing wrong. And, that punishment scale is based on how much money or influence your parents might have.

Here in Kansas, we had a group of high school kids get busted a few years ago buying essays. The teacher flunked them all, but the parents went to the school board and pressured them into giving the kids passing grades. You can be assured it wasn't an inner city school. We've become a nation of cynics.

Re:My Theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771857)

Not to worry, very few Harvard graduates go far in politics.

In fact, considering how highly selective the admission process is and how well connected its graduates are, the number of presidents who are Harvard alum is appallingly low. I have no explanation as to why.

Re:My Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771883)

I guess all of these students were planning on going into politics.

Please. Cheating isn't even on the goddamn hazing list for politics. You have to be a hardened criminal to break into that group. After all, you wouldn't want to stand out.

Re:My Theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772025)

My guess is that their families weren't rich enough to hire attorneys.

Completely Predictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771499)

Put people in a position where they will benefit from cheating, and feel likely to get away with it, and most of them will cheat.

Few and far between are the people who will play fair, to their own potential detriment, when able to get away with it and competing against others who do not play fair.

Re:Completely Predictable (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#42771777)

Few and far between are the people who will play fair, to their own potential detriment, when able to get away with it and competing against others who do not play fair.

Even fewer are those who will continue to do this after the first few times. After a while you begin to believe that the real rules and the stated ones have little to do with each other, and anyone following the stated rules isn't any more moral or ethical or in any way better; they're just a chump.

Does anyone not cheat anymore? (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#42771501)

Sports figures, politicians, business leaders, Ivy college students... all cheat to get what they want. At least Beyonce wouldn't lie to us. Oh, wait...

Most Students Don't Cheat (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#42771915)

Actually most students do not cheat. While the number of cheating incidents is sadly on the rise - probably by about a factor of 2-3 since I started as a prof 10 years ago - the vast majority of university students do not cheat. So while it is always bad to hear of cases like this it is worth getting a little perspective: many students work extremely hard for their degrees and we should not devalue that because some idiots insist on cheating.

Re:Most Students Don't Cheat (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#42772127)

You know what bugs me, in the U.S. there are all these cheating types who apologize AFTER they get caught, then go on talk shows to try to explain themselves away. Lance Armstrong saw the walls closing in from the Dept. of Justice, THEN he 'fesses up, to try to get to keep as much ill-gotten money as possible. CEO's get caught, usually get little or no jail time, and pay back 'some' of the total amount stolen, and can be free to live out their lives afterward in comfort. And our culture is okay with this, thereby condoning it. When there are real real-life penalties for all forms of cheating in life, only then can we truly be as moral as we tell people we are.

Re:Most Students Don't Cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772277)

Given the examination was open-book and take-home what ever possessed these students to cheat? If you cannot formulate articulate responses to a take-home, open-book examination there is something lacking in the students themselves. While take-home examinations tend to be more difficult than auditorium-examination hall examinations, they usually allow students the opportunity to take the examination in a more comfortable setting and with the ability to take numerous breaks over the course of one or more days before submitting their work.

Now thats FUNNY (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42771507)

Ha-vahd students too lazy and ignorant to get a clue about Congress. What will they do when Daddy buys them a seat? (besides feel up the interns?)

Re:Now thats FUNNY (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#42771593)

With respect, I don't think has to do with east coast liberal elites. I think this has to do with culture and elitism in general.

Look at our leadership in congress for instance in both houses. I doesn't take much effort to figure out the meritocracy isn't in play.

Re:Now thats FUNNY (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42771763)

Damn, we had to learn the functions of Congress back in grade school and Middle school. By high school I had two classmates intern.
Makes me question the quality of school today. The quality of Congress hasn't been a question in my lifetime.

Re:Now thats FUNNY (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#42772305)

Damn, we had to learn the functions of Congress back in grade school and Middle school. By high school I had two classmates intern. Makes me question the quality of school today. The quality of Congress hasn't been a question in my lifetime.

It could be the college course is a little more detailed.

Re:Now thats FUNNY (1)

melikamp (631205) | about a year ago | (#42771847)

If you cheat and fail you’re a cheater. If you cheat and succeed, you’re savvy. ~Eric Cartmanez, The White Person Method

Re:Now thats FUNNY (2)

Enry (630) | about a year ago | (#42772161)

I work for Harvard (but not FAS, another school), but getting into FAS is no longer strictly about having money or connections. A large portion of the students that go there get some sort of financial aid, and a family making less than $120k gets a massive amount of financial aid if they are accepted.

FAS Financial Aid Office [harvard.edu]

First reaction was... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771527)

No wonder.. take home exams... open book exams.. what do you expect from the low level colleges... Then it actually hit me that this is Harvard.edu we are talking about.

I guess I was just lucky to finish eng and comp sci from a place where they filtered us from 450 in first year to 5 with diplomas in fourth, without ANY of this open-book-exam nonsense.

Then again, I'm unemployed at the time and work is tough to find... if I only went for a bigger name university... had the grades, didn't have the money... ah the ways of the world :)

Re:First reaction was... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771585)

No wonder.. take home exams... open book exams.. what do you expect from the low level colleges... Then it actually hit me that this is Harvard.edu we are talking about.

I guess I was just lucky to finish eng and comp sci from a place where they filtered us from 450 in first year to 5 with diplomas in fourth, without ANY of this open-book-exam nonsense.

Then again, I'm unemployed at the time and work is tough to find... if I only went for a bigger name university... had the grades, didn't have the money... ah the ways of the world :)

If you got accepted to Harvard you would've had a free ride if you're poor. Poor people don't pay tuition there.

I didn't go there either but I'm not bitter about it or making up excuses for why my life sucks.

Did you even apply? Did you actually get accepted? Odds are: zero.

Re:First reaction was... (4, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#42771773)

Truly poor people pay no tuition, true. I'm not sure what the room and board policy is (fairly safe bet it's not cheap) nor about books, etc., but even if they are covered there are substantial costs associated with college that do not have to do with the college itself, such as transportation to and from (e.g., dorms aren't open over holidays). Most students in that situation are better off taking a proper full ride from a slightly lesser school, since it will not be taken out from under them if they or their parents make some extra money one year (unlike need-based aid, which will be affected by expected family and student contribution).

Yes, I was admitted, no, I didn't go, and that is why. I needed security, something my parents were ill equipped to provide. Why do you think high expectations Asian father macros (just making a point, I'm not from an Asian or immigrant family) all talk about med school or engineering? Reliable professional jobs are a great place for middle class kids with brains; they can send their own kids to the big name schools. Was it the right choice? I aimed too low for my lesser school and although I made about $5000 a year from excess scholarship money and graduated without debt I probably could have gotten the same offer from a better place, so it is hard to tell - but then I make mid six figures in an area with a very low cost of living, so it's not like I ended up in the gutter.

Re:First reaction was... (4, Interesting)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#42771651)

The funny thing (sad thing?) is how lenient the punishments were. Suspension? At my school, a lowly community college, cheating usually results in expulsion, with a 0 in the course being the minimum consequence.

Re:First reaction was... (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42771677)

well sure your community college does not have an outraged parent who just cut a $45k check to answer to; there is little in the way of them having standards.

Re:First reaction was... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771989)

The parents SHOULD be outraged, at their kids for wasting their money. Unfortunately, even a suspension won't be enough for these kids to have trouble finding high-paying jobs after graduation. For people at the top there are no consequences.

Re:First reaction was... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772079)

Some years ago if you got bad grades your parents would get mad at you for being lazy, etc.

Nowadays all I see are parents getting mad at the teachers. The first thing they dream up is that the teacher is doing something wrong and their poor kids are suffering from it. Then they all get together (the parents) and synchronize their stories, call the school director and request a meeting. If enough kids got really bad grades the teacher risks being fired.

Re:First reaction was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771699)

You pay a lot less to go to community college than they pay to go to Harvard... You know how it goes!

Re:First reaction was... (3, Informative)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year ago | (#42772149)

I believe some of the students were indeed expelled.
The case is more complicated than simply copying.
1) This class used to be easy, but this year it was very hard
2) A lot of athletes etc. got in the class so that they could pass. When it was tough they panicked
3) They went to teaching assistants with questions about "interpreting" the exam. The TA's helped them freely. This was considered cheating in exams and resulted in suspensions.
4) Some cheated outright. Many resulted in expulsions with grades for the year getting set to zero and tuition for the year being refunded.
5) A few students copied class notes, but did not copy in the exam. This was looked at on a case by case basis and resulted in punishments (some expelled, some not)

Re:First reaction was... (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#42772395)

It occurred to me after writing this that a community college also has extra incentive to take a hard stance against cheating. If the college is known for allowing students get away with cheating, it might hurt prospective transfers to 4-year colleges.

Re:First reaction was... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771981)

You realise that open-book exams give a lecturer a much better insight of what students have actually learned, rather than what they remember from cramming the night before? Open-book exams test insights. If you can recite of the books and other literature for a course, but you never actually did anything, you're highly likely to fail it. Fact memorisation exams don't show that you learned something: rather, they show you memorised things: most students tend to forget those things before the next semester is over. And then you have to teach it to them all over again when they need it.

Re:First reaction was... (2)

Cederic (9623) | about a year ago | (#42772083)

In the UK we call them 'papers' and 'essays'. Write 1250 words describing X.

Exams on the other hand are exams. They don't ask you to repeat facts, they require you to demonstrate understanding of the underlying concepts, approaches and context. No memorisation needed, just a clear understanding of the subject.

Re:First reaction was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772307)

How do you think I passed my high school examinations? Memorization was necessary for 95% of the courses. And I forgot the material and the examination questions within 10 minutes of leaving the examination hall.

Hmm (2)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#42771543)

Anyone else looked at the syllabus for some of these classes? I was looking at one online and I thought it looked more like it belonged in a community college.
I was surprised at the poor quality of classes I found, maybe actually being there in the class with the other 150 students makes a difference.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771639)

Not surprised. I am told that Harvard is actually not that great a school. I am also told that UPenn is nothing too special. Of course, I am probably being told this because I attend Princeton, which I can ASSURE you is nothing special (academically tough but not worth it due to the number of douchebags you need to interact with here and the poor quality of professors).

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771641)

And most colleges and universities ape Harvard and other Ivy League institutions. I went to State and many of our materials had Harvard copyrights all over them. The courses were identical to what they offered.

Getting an Ivy League education is no better than State, BUT because they are so selective, it means more because you were accepted there.

I think it's quite telling that many got rich relatively quick people were drop outs from Ivy League schools.

Tells you something, doesn't it?

I'm beginning to think the optimal education plan is to:

1. get accepted to Harvard or Yale.

2. Drop out.

3. Profit! (then quietly get a degree at state - you DO want to be educated.)

I think it's kind of short sighted that VCs and other money people just focus on Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, etc .... There is plenty of talent locked away at Flyover State U. that goes unnoticed - and you got the whole hardworking farmboy thing going to.

Re:No (2)

Cederic (9623) | about a year ago | (#42772125)

Or maybe - just possibly - the Ivy League universities continually turn out entrepreneurs because they teach the same material better.

Maybe it's because they foster a culture of exploration and innovation.

Maybe it's because people are surrounded by other self-starters.

Maybe it's because people wanting to kick something new off have access to wealthy individuals.

It's definitely there, I suspect it's a combination of several of those things, and I know that if I were seeking a university in the US I'd be applying straight to MIT and fuck the cost.

But I went to university in the UK, at one of the top five business schools in the world (when I was there - only in the top 20 or so now). I did fuck all on my degree but gained skills I'm still using personally and professionally two decades later.

A university education is almost nothing to do with the details of the subject matter.

no and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772291)

If what you say were true, then dropouts wouldn't succeed - would they?

My premis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772323)

Then they don''t need those schools.

Dropout and make a living.

Ivy league schools are a waste of money.

Thanks for proving my point.

Re:Hmm (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42771697)

There's this weird worship for big American universities. In some cases they have excellent research and graduate programs but undergrad is undergrad. Except where you're paying big bucks and being a "legacy" makes some kind of difference. In that case there's a profit motive to make things easy enough for everybody to do well.

Cheating in Congress (5, Funny)

HybridST (894157) | about a year ago | (#42771545)

The course is Government 1310: "Introduction to Congress" so I'd think cheating was required.

Fight Fiercely, Harvard! (1, Offtopic)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#42771563)

Fight fiercely, Harvard, Fight, fight, fight!
Demonstrate to them our skill.
Albeit they possess the might,
Nonetheless we have the will.
How we shall celebrate our victory,
We shall invite the whole team up for tea (how jolly!)
Hurl that spheroid down the field, and Fight, fight, fight!

Fight fiercely, Harvard,
Fight, fight, fight!
Impress them with our prowess, do!
Oh, fellows, do not let the crimson down,
Be of stout heart and thru.
Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard's glorious name,
Won't it be peachy if we win the game? (oh, goody!)
Let's try not to injure them, but Fight, fight, fight!
And do fight fiercely! Fight, fight, fight!

(by Tom Lehrer)

Lots of geniuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771575)

The first rule of cheating: Don't get caught. If you're going to copy, just get ideas from each other then rewrite it how you want. At least then its tougher to prove.

The second rule of cheating: Cheat off someone smarter than you. Be amazed how many people don't follow this one.

Not Surprising (5, Interesting)

RearNakedChoke (1102093) | about a year ago | (#42771589)

The new generation of kids cheat as if that's how things get done.

I was talking to a 15 year old kid, how his grades suffered because he decided he wasn't going to cheat anymore. He admitted he previously cheated freely and openly, without shame. Why? EVERYONE cheated, so there was no shame in it. But he realized that cheating was shortsighted and sooner or later, he would have to actually learn stuff. So he resolved to stop cheating, but at the cost of his previous good grades.

HE is an encouraging example. But the rest of his classmates aren't. Cheating is the norm and our future is screwed.

Re:Not Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771703)

I don't know what generation you were from. But the only reason my generation didn't cheat is because we were too lazy to do it.

Re:Not Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771733)

The other side of the coin is when you find out most of the "work" you have to do in class is simply busy-work which has no value after the exams. At that point, there's no point in bothering to memorize useless formulas and the like.

The most annoying thing though is seeing at one high school graduation, the principal bragging about how 2/3 of the class has 4.0 or better GPAs. That's telling me just how bad grade inflation has gotten.

and with loads of theroy as well that does not rea (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42771963)

and with loads of theroy as well that does not really help you in a real job. Also lot's of the fluff and filler classes are loaded with BS busy-work.

Re:Not Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772321)

I'm sure you had to walk up hill both ways too.

Sounds like it's past time for your medication gramps - better hope the new generation doesn't vote down medicare (assuming we can afford to continue to pay for it for you since we are all cheats)!

Time to get off your lawn.

Being Caught is Unforgivable (2)

Baldrson (78598) | about a year ago | (#42771595)

Harvard, Yale, etc. are the source of our leaders -- our elites -- and as we all know the first rule of an elite is to never get caught screwing the little guy.

Clearly these esteemed institutions have failed in their mission.

Details would be nice... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771609)

One has to be careful with these sorts of stories. A few years back at my University, newspapers went wild when an entire engineering ethics class was given an F for cheating. The reality of it? The professor gave no instructions on how to properly cite things, gave an assignment, and 'taught everyone a lesson' by failing them all for plagiarism when they didn't follow the exact standards of reference citing. These were engineers- imagine how little they know or care about perfection in reference citing. Nobody was intending to cheat the system, except for a professor who wanted to make some kind of point, by ruining the GPAs of a hundred students.

In this situation, I see certain similarities- one professor, one paper, and few details.

Re:Details would be nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772357)

Learning proper citation is relatively easy and there are manuals written specifically to show the correct citation to be used for various information sources. I had to learn APA and MLA citation rules during my undergraduate studies. Besides any time you use someone else's words or ideas in a written assignment you are supposed to acknowledge the source. Is that too much to ask of engineering students?

Re:Details would be nice... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772455)

Here are some details, from the various Harvard Crimson articles on the topic.

The cheating occurred on a take-home exam. The instructions for the exam stated that it was open notes, open book, and open Internet, but that talking to other people about the exam was forbidden.

The exam was a different format from previous years' final exams. Previously, the only questions on the exams had been essay questions. This year, short-answer questions were added to the exam. Many students thought the short-answer questions were more difficult than the essay questions. In fact, in previous years, the course had been widely regarded as easy, in part because of the easy exams, but students in the year in question did not find it to be easy. Many students also thought the short-answer questions were confusing. During the period in which the exam was assigned, the professor sent out at least one email providing clarification on the short-answer questions due to mass confusion.

After the exams were collected, it was noted that many students turned in very similar answers on the short-answer questions. This suggested that they had collaborated, in violation of the exam instructions.

Take-home exams? (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year ago | (#42771611)

on a handful of take-home exams

There's your problem right there.

I wonder why oral exams aren't more common in the United States. When I came to do graduate studies in Europe, they really forced me to shape up and learn my stuff. Not only do they make cheating impossible, but when you are judged on how fast you provide the answer, you also internalize it better.

Sure, written exams are the norm for science fields where one must note down specialist notation like mathematics or chemistry, but in the humanities -- and the "political science" of this article -- they seem an excellent way of judging student progress.

Re:Take-home exams? (3, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42771723)

Graduate studies in North America make use of oral exams as well.

Nobody wants to listen to a thousand undergrads stumble over the same questions.

Re:Take-home exams? (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a year ago | (#42771749)

I wonder why oral exams aren't more common in the United States. When I came to do graduate studies in Europe, they really forced me to shape up and learn my stuff. Not only do they make cheating impossible, but when you are judged on how fast you provide the answer, you also internalize it better.

Because giving hundreds of students oral exams would require effort on the part of the faculty and they believe that they have better things to do.

Re:Take-home exams? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772265)

They do have better things to do, their career is dependent on research and not on teaching basic things to some undergrads.

Universities give them assistants but those are merely other students who again won't advance based on how well they teach. There's also never enough TAs.

Re:Take-home exams? (1)

Improv (2467) | about a year ago | (#42771769)

Are you trying to say this is Harvard's "fault"? Surely I'm misunderstanding somehow.

To me, this is just a happy filtering out of some students who needed a lesson in humility and ethics. No fault to Harvard or the professor.

need hands on based tests and they test unstaindin (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42771967)

need hands on based tests and they test understanding of a topic and not just cramming.

Re:Take-home exams? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772109)

Oral exams waste a tremendous amount of time for both students and faculty. For a half-hour exam with 20 topics, good students have to prepare 10 hours of exactly perfect presentation. Do you have any idea how much time that takes to do? That time is on top of the time you need to actually learn the material, which is all you need to do for a written exam. To make matters worse, a good exam presentation is nothing like a good non-exam presentation, so you are not learning to present well in that time.

Re:Take-home exams? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772239)

Oral exams don't happen because its a huge mess if the students contest the grade. You don't want some kid with a lawyer helicopter parent claiming that you had it in for him in an oral exam. There is no paper trail and the grading is subjective. Or hell, if you are a male professor, a female student can always claim that you gave her a bad grade because she refused sexual favors. You are in DEEP trouble if that accusation gets made, even if you are complete innocent.

You can mitigate that by doing exams in groups and all that, but it's still a big risk.

Written stuff leaves a paper trail, which provides a lot of protection from students claiming nonsense.

Re:Take-home exams? (1)

Milharis (2523940) | about a year ago | (#42772485)

Here in France in the Classes Préparatoires [wikipedia.org], students have written and oral exams. And it's not only in humanities, but in science as well.
Basically, you've got 20 minutes to prepare 3 exercises on paper, and 20 minutes to present them. And unless you're really good, you don't have the time to prepare everything before going to the black board, so you have improvise.
It works quite well, people are rarely contesting the grades, and there's no way a student can cheat.

On a take-home exam? (1, Insightful)

edibobb (113989) | about a year ago | (#42771615)

Cheating on a take-home exam is just plain lazy!

Re:On a take-home exam? (1)

dunezone (899268) | about a year ago | (#42771841)

Even though the students should not be cheating its stupid for the professor to not expect this when handing out a take home exam. I remember in 7th grade my teacher giving us all a take home. She also sent home a letter that our parents had to sign saying we didn't use any class room material or the books on the exam. My father was laughing his ass off when he was signing that document.

Re: On a take-home exam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772201)

Why, e,scrotum do you think that's stupid? Do you think learning is bettered measured in 45 minutes?

Re:On a take-home exam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772303)

You, and anyone modding you insightful, have clearly never taken a take-home exam.

Those have without contest been the hardest ones I've ever had to do. Detailed questions demanding equally long and detailed answers, stuff that really makes you dig in the theories, and little time to boot. It has been days when I've barely had time to eat or pretty much do *anything* but work, from early morning to late at night to make deadline. Otoh, I'm not american, so what do I know..

Make some calls Daddy! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771649)

I see some new, expensive buildings being donated to Harvard in the near future.

When cultural icons like Lance Armstrong .... (4, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about a year ago | (#42771691)

Look, how surprising is this really? I'd say about as surprising as the sun rising. Our cultural icons don't just cheat (think performance enhancing drugs) but when they are caught the repercussions are so minor (at least as portrayed by the media) that it makes cheating almost mandatory because everyone does it and when things are competitive or, say, graded on a curve, you're kind of screwed into following suit.

Re:When cultural icons like Lance Armstrong .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771793)

Armstrong was more like the kid who cheated to get into Harvard, and yeah, there's been at least one verified case of that too.

Re:When cultural icons like Lance Armstrong .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772107)

That confirms my long-held suspicion that Suits is a documentary. Whew, thanks.

Graduated lamers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771695)

Soooooo!

That's how the GNOME Developers have graduated!

So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771701)

Some of the most notorious mass murderers graduated from Harvard and it's all about wealth and influence anyway. In other words, Harvard's reputation is highly overrated.

Half suspended, the other half - not so much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771721)

more than half of the cases heard by administrators in the scandal, which erupted last year, had resulted in suspension orders.

Translation: More than half the cases heard involved last names we didn't know and resulted in suspension. Other punishments included funding the library expansion and building a new athletics center.

What did he expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771761)

Your forced to cheat on those damn things because EVERYBODY else does and the professors make them insanely long. I really hate take home exams for that reason. I failed a course because of one (and humorously passed the exam part with a B the first time, but then had no time to actually study for the final, so handed in a basically empty final, the 2nd time I took the course I did get an A on my final and had the same professor, he didn't give us a take home exam, or if he did it was MUCH MUCH MUCH shorter, like 1/10 of the prior courses, and I did have a B average the first time I took the course going into the final).

What about Difficult Courses? (1)

littlewink (996298) | about a year ago | (#42771805)

If so many cheated on a gut intro to Congress course, it must be rampant for difficult courses.

So did Barack (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771807)

Or rather, as we all know him, BaQUACK ObamAILURE, cheat when he took this corse? Of corse he done did! He wanted to be white just like him masters! He be nothing but an ORE EE OH.

Re:So did Barack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771835)

Or rather, as we all know him, BaQUACK ObamAILURE, cheat when he took this corse? Of corse he done did! He wanted to be white just like him masters! He be nothing but an ORE EE OH.

I'm sorry for your loss. SOME administration certainly failed at public education.

How many of them were Chinese? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42771975)

Not trying to be racist here but Chinese students have a reputation for appallingly unethical ethical behavior.

Their real error (5, Funny)

rknop (240417) | about a year ago | (#42771987)

Getting caught!

Our colleges are supposed to train our students to succeed in society. That means, we need to wee out the ones who are going to get caught when they cheat. The truly successful in our society are the ones who cheat without getting caught.

I feel so cynical today.

Take the course on line (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#42772081)

You can take this course on line. [harvard.edu] for $1,045 to $2000. At Harvard, I would have expected "Introduction to Congress" to be taught by an former member of Congress, but it's just an ordinary instructor.

I'm watching the first video. At the beginning, the instructor says that all you need to know to start this course is that "Congress" exists. At 00:02:35, he's talking about the proposal to change the rules to prevent filibusters from stalling Congress (only the Senate, actually). The speaker is interesting, but if you don't already know a lot about American politics and the structure of Congress, you'll be totally lost.

Grade inflation (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#42772097)

With rampant grade inflation going on these days, especially at the high end schools (where everyone is above average, remember) these kids didn't have to cheat - just wait for the As to roll in.

Well on their way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772137)

Lying and cheating in a course on Congress? Sounds like they're well on their way...

U.S.A., Incorporated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42772287)

Too late for you. Your government has been incorporated since first world war, and finished by world war II. How else could Bushes profit off IG Farben during WWII.? If it weren't for Trade With Enemy Act, you could have as well been incorporated into the Final Reich. If it weren't for Shoal of certain lesser brethen, counted in millions, supplied from upper west Ukraine and Russia.

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