I’ve got some stuff to crash on at work, so for the moment, let me just recap news coverage of the apparent resolution of the Harvard cheating scandal.
First, Harvard, in classic Washington-corporate America fashion, disclosed the news on the Friday of Super Bowl weekend, so that it would receive the least exposure possible. Come on, guys–you’re better than that. Or you should be.
The Times: “Harvard Forced Dozens to Leave in Cheating Scandal.”
Harvard has forced dozens of students to leave in its largest cheating scandal in memory, the university made clear in summing up the affair on Friday, but it would not address assertions that the blame rested partly with a professor and his teaching assistants.
…Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education who has spent much of his career studying cheating, said that eventually, the university should “give a much more complete account of exactly what happened and why it happened.”
In an apparent disclosure about the Harvard cheating scandal, a top university official said Friday that more than half of the Harvard students investigated by a college board have been ordered to withdraw from the school.
Bits and Pieces (Harry Lewis’ blog): “Lingering Questions about the ‘Cheating Scandal.‘”
What troubles me, and what deserves discussion, is purely a matter of judgment: why harsh penalties were meted out to more than a hundred students (even probation has to be reported on law school applications, for example) when there were so many shades of gray in what students did and so much room for misinterpreting the course’s rules and policies. If there were ever a case that called for judicial restraint, this was it.
Slate: “There is no Harvard Cheating Scandal.”
The students should be celebrated for collaborating on an unfair test.
The Telegraph: Dozens Disciplined over Exam Cheating Scandal at Harvard.
Thomas Stemberg, a Harvard graduate whose son is a student, on Friday criticised the university’s handling of the probe.
“If you challenge the entire faculty at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Law School to come up with a process that took more time, cost more money, embarrassed more innocent students, and vindicated guilty faculty … that could not have outdone the process that took place,” he said.
The Australian: Dozens Suspended in Harvard Cheat Scandal.
Harvard, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the most exclusive universities in the world. Students pay about $US63,000 ($A60,700) a year to attend after winning places in a highly competitive admissions process.
Literally every other college kid in the world is laughing right now because of a bunch of Harvard students were dumb enough to copy answers on a take-home….
Boston Business Journal: “Harvard Stops Short of Expulsion in Cheating Scandal Verdict.”
The Washington Times: “Harvard Wraps Cheating Probe; Fate of Cheaters Unclear.”
The Wall Street Journal: “A Major Sports Scandal at…Harvard?”
A couple quick thoughts: Judging from the confusion of all these stories, if Harvard intended to deal with this scandal in a straightforward and transparent way that emphasized its academic values and integrity and sent a clear message to students about the university’s priorities, it has failed.
But if Harvard meant to muddy the waters as much as possible, obscure the truth and confuse the general public about what actually happened, it has done so quite effectively.
FInally, I’ve just read Harry Lewis’ blog post, cited above, which enlarged my knowledge of some of these issues considerably. It’s hard not to read that post without concluding that everything about the Gov 1310 was so poorly run, Harvard should have let the students off and focused on reforming teaching and departmental procedures. And also maybe re-think the whole idea of take-home exams.