Posted on March 18th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »
In one of the clearest narratives of the Harvard email scandal that I’ve read, the Washington Post’s Bonnie Goldstein points out that both the “cheaters” in Harvard’s “Introduction to Congress” class and the deans who violated Harvard policy in their conduct of espionage may have been tripped up by confusing regulations in both instances. (That’s a charitable view about the deans, but assume that it’s true for now.)
Yet only the students will suffer any material consequences for their actions.
Reminding the world that dean of undergraduate education Jay Harris called the cheating scandal a “teaching opportunity,” Goldstein writes,
As with the students of the government class, the administrators did something they were trusted not to. Carefully worded apologies notwithstanding, in the spirit of taking the high road, would it be too harsh to sanction the people who made the bad decision? [Blogger: That's FAS dean Michael Smith and Harvard College dean Evelynn Hammonds.] To take advantage of a “teaching opportunity,” maybe a short suspension as an example to others would broaden the “conversation of academic integrity.”
Of course this will never happen. But…why not? The lack of any consequences for these deans’ actions invites cynicism and a loss of confidence about Harvard’s moral grounding. [The deans’ mealy apology did more damage than good.)
Shouldn’t Harvard’s deans be held to—at the very least—the same standards of integrity Harvard asks of its students?