Harvard Accuses 125 Students of Cheating on Final Exam

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Memorial Church at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Updated: 6 p.m.

In what is being called the largest Ivy League cheating scandal in living memory, some 125 Harvard University undergraduates have been accused of colluding on a final exam and are being investigated by the university.

University officials have said the students may have violated a no-collaboration policy printed on the take-home test by working together to come up with answers or by copying answers from their classmates. Jay Harris, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education, told the Boston Globe that the students’ answers were either identical or “too close for comfort.”

The potentially plagiarized answers were discovered in May by a teaching fellow who was grading the tests. Members of the school’s administrative board have spent the months since interviewing students and reviewing the exams.

In a statement, Harvard president Drew Faust said:

These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behavior that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends. We must deal with this fairly and through a deliberative process. At the same time, the scope of the allegations suggests that there is work to be done to ensure that every student at Harvard understands and embraces the values that are fundamental to its community of scholars.

According to Bloomberg News, the 125 students—out of 250 enrolled in the course—will face hearings before the board. Those found guilty could face up to a year-long suspension. The university is not releasing the names of the students in question and have declined to identify which course they were taking.

Update: The Harvard Crimson, citing several students familiar with the investigation, is reporting that the course the students are accused of cheating in was Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress” taught by Professor Matthew B. Platt. University officials have still not released the name of the course or the names of any of the students involved.

Kayla Webley is a Staff Writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley, on Facebook or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

55 comments
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NCSouthernBelle2020
NCSouthernBelle2020

I don't know what's worse: the fact that the teachers are surprised that cheating takes place on a take-home test or that 125 out of 250 students didn't think it would be obvious to the professor when they came up with the exact same answers, or near it. Is it safe to assume either they all got the answers wrong, or reached their conclusions using the exact same logic? 

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

You didn't read the Obamacare Bill!!!  Obama's taken control of Doctor's salaries as well as YOUR bank account to pay them.   Since we all know money is the lifeblood of medicine then Obama's taken control of medical production.  Socialism on the face of it.  You DID know he took control of both doctor's salaries AND has direct access to your bank account to pay for it, yes??  You've read the bill, yes??  you haven't??  Then you deserve it.

Asok Asus
Asok Asus

There’ll be several resounding slaps on wrists and severe admonitions

for getting caught, i.e., suitable preparation should they be caught

perpetuating the adult forms of such transgressions after they go to

work on wall street selling derivatives.

Jon Donham
Jon Donham

so 1st why was it a take home final exam ? Harvard charging tuition and then not really teaching ? 2 nd there will be no expulsion we arent giving up tuition on 125 students . and 3rd isnt the working world today about collaboration and working together , team building skills and research ? whether they google an answer refer to their notes or phone a friend whats the difference ? the other 125 kids who arent accused are all foreign nationals ,asian and indian probably

kar420
kar420

In todays world of the excruciatingly competitive admissions- 35,000! applicants for a about 2000 spots in the freshman class last year.  Many of these kids will do ANYTHING to get in- and some of those do cheat to get there- so the fact that they cheat to stay on top is not surprising - just a sad reality.  Cheers to the true stars who do it on their own.

CKH
CKH

Ivy league schools have long been known to dispense A's  to 80% of students.  It is where the concept of grade inflation was invented. They do that to enhance academic and social equality and to promote the concept of sharing the wealth.

Adam Shippey
Adam Shippey

Not Princeton, Princeton has grade DEflation. Only a certain percentage of students in a class can receive top marks, regardless of performance.

Dunstan Harding
Dunstan Harding

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn  the 125 students were the sons and daughters of Harvard alumni.  So many of their parents cheated to get into Harvard and took the place of other students who were admitted based upon merit.

EdwinReyes  ;)
EdwinReyes ;)

Let's all cheat at school!! If in Hardvard yes why in my college no?

ronaldodehagaldo
ronaldodehagaldo

How many more scandals are there at top schools that remain undetected?  What puzzles me is why give take home tests that create the opportunity for cheating even if it was not the intention of a student?  I am a professor and I understand why students may require hours to complete a test.  But surely such a take home test could have been better designed that is not considered a final exam but coursework.  A one three hour essay test could also be given to the elite minds that Havard claims they admit!  Moreover, the topic of the essay should not be given to students prior to the test.  But, you say, it's too much to ask of the students!  Potentially true but we're dealing with the cream of the crop and there's no barring the professor from providing a number of essay questions/topics and students select one out of these (e.g., 1 out of 5).  Yes, grading can be an issue (5 different essays) but integrity remains paramount.  I have spent years grading essays of 300plus students and conducting my research.  Havard, some food for thought at the top brass policy level.  If it was not for this discovery, we'd assume graduates of Havard (the often world's #1) are bright and moral.

Sasebo_kid
Sasebo_kid

As an alumnus, every year I interview applicants to Harvard College.  I will make sure to bring the final action in this case to the attention of each interviewee.  It's hard to believe that such intelligent people could have acted so stupidly (as well as corruptly) on this exam.

Reflected
Reflected

Go talk to a few people who have actually graduated recently from one of the top schools.  Cheating is rampant at all of them.  Many of them cheated to get in the schools in the first place.  These students were sloppy and got caught.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

In a world that clearly values competitive success over all other things and typically rewards corporate and political criminal behavior most of all, is everybody surprised?

I think not, winning is what is important in America and the World now, not how you win.

Ethics have become a thing to be circumvented, not followed.

Our corporations and our government have taught us this did they think we didn't really understand?

There comes a reckoning.

Chucky Cee
Chucky Cee

Every lie in America is being exposed, even the so-called best and brightest have been cheating forever; Twenty Twelve must be the end of the world.

O_Pinion
O_Pinion

As a non-American it has been interesting watching the noticable change in attitudes of respondents to stories like this.

10 years ago I think Americans would generally have been awarded a B+ or even an A for patriotism, and a D+ to C for Cynicism. Now I think the marks have probably reversed.

frankblank
frankblank

They should graduate them with an asterisk:

*Unfit for human activity except: Wall St, K St, Congress.

Maureen Owen
Maureen Owen

Intro to Congress, eh? How appropriate. 

annevincent
annevincent

I think this gives us all an idea about how Harvard manages to nurture and develop the great minds of the powerful in Washington. 

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Yessssss  with a direct pipeline sewer feed.  Nothing but the BEST fertilizer.   Hahvahd is a two story outhouse with the door marked "Teachers" on top.  Directly above the one marked "students"

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

Take home test is dumb way to test students anyway.

rar113
rar113

Not necessarily true.  It depends what you're trying to test.  If you're trying to test ability to memorize a body of material and to reproduce it in a time-bound situation, then a take-home test is obviously not appropriate.  Examples might be an anatomy test in medical school -- MD's shouldn't have to diagnose each patient by deriving alternatives from first principles.  On the other hand, if you're trying to test comprehension of a large body of material and ability to work with it creatively, a take-home test is probably a better alternative.  Of course the trick is each one still must work individually, unless, in addition, you're trying to test the students' ability to work as a team.  I've taught undergraduate physics and have used both in different situations.

Malphius
Malphius

Sounds like the all have a pretty firm grasp on the system.  I agree.  A's!

Matt Menke
Matt Menke

Shouldn't they all get A's?  They clearly understand how Congress works.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Haven't you noticed that ALL the best Socialists in Government are from Hahvahd??  Including that "elegant  man" currently in the oval office?  This may be news, but  Hahvahd is a Socialist Training School.  I don't see what the big deal is?  The class teaches the joys of Communism, and the students were just doing what they were taught.   Pooling their resources and taking out answers.  You know, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs?  Standard Hahvahd fare!!!  So why are they being punished??

rdl114
rdl114

 Haven't you noticed you don't know what a Socialist is? Go read a book... start with the dictionary and work your way up. When you get to the f's, look at Fascism, then you'll recognize your fellow travelers, and yourself. There's been cheating since time began. It knows no political bounds. Air Force Academy scandal anyone?

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Yes!!!  I looked it up!! A socialist is someone who BELIEVES what he's told!  BELIEVES in the Fairy Tax Man!  BELIEVES that you can get something for nothing, and BELIEVES that other people's money will last forever!!  Regardless of the facts of the case.  Socialists are immune to logic, immune to reason!  Immune to anything that is real or true!  If you want to know what Socialism is, ask an 8 year old --  they will tell you that Emperor Obama's mommy dresses him funny and THEIR mommy wold NEVER EVER let them go outside dressed like.......THAT!!!

Starshiprarity
Starshiprarity

Yeah, seems like you're reading out of a Glenn Beck book. I know how they can be confusing- neither Beck nor the dictionairy can go a few lines without completely changing ideas.

Csaber
Csaber

Not sure if Hahvahd is a socialist training school, but the college mentioned in the story, "Harvard" is a world-renowned university.

Jfante1452
Jfante1452

Do you even know what socialism is, twit?

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Uh huh.  OBamacare is Socialism.  How's that for Twat for Twit?

Matt Menke
Matt Menke

It's incorrect, so not too good.  Socialism is government ownership of the means of production.  If Obama nationalized all the hospitals, so the government owned and operated them, that would be socialism.  A mandate that people buy a product from privately owned corporations is in no way socialism.

thomstitute
thomstitute

You Sir, are a moron.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Well I wasn't stchupid enough to go to Hahvahd.  But I bet you qualified.

Matt Menke
Matt Menke

You do know Mitt Romney and several of his sons also have Harvard degrees, right?  As does George W. Bush.

AmericanPatriot666
AmericanPatriot666

Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress”? I think we all know what jokes we can make out of this!

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Yes!  But NOTHING like the Joke the graduates of 1310 have made OUT of Congress.  I can just see the founding fathers smoking hemp and contemplating that just maybe King George knew what he was doing when he tried to stop this class' subject from forming in the first place.  Pass the Choom?  Quick!  Before the Choomer in Chief screams "interception" and takes a second hit from the ballot box.

Anukampa
Anukampa

Take home tests? Makes me wonder about unsupervised education and testing. Would a bank let customers walk into a vault and let them take money out based on an honor system? Let's quit cutting corners when it comes to things of value.

Csaber
Csaber

Take home tests are often used in subjects like Law where the test isn't 'regurgitate the facts we've taught you' bur rather 'take the facts taught to you and apply them to this situation' - rather than having students bring in all those resources, why not simulate what they'll be doing in the work place: 24 hours to respond to a brief, for instance. The name is a bit misleading, it's more like a 24-48 hour assignment,  rather than a test.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

YOu get out what you put in.  If you look at the current Hahvahd grad resident of the Oval Office, you can see where that gets you.  Cutting corners and cheating is the Hahvahd way.  Haven't you noticed?  If not, then read Obamacare -- that will convince you.

Maureen Owen
Maureen Owen

If you look at the previous Yale grad who was in the Oval Office you can really see what higher education gets you. 

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Puhleese.  Alfred E. Neuman hanging one armed from a tree, scratching his armpit with the same side hand?   I"m glad the Ivies exist and are so segregated, it keeps the rest of the human race relatively infestation free.  

Donnie Duster
Donnie Duster

Yes. Take home tests Anukampa. Especially if it is a lower level course they make sense because of the amount of students enrolled. However, this shows laziness in being able to perform a simple take home test, and fault should be placed on the students for being such dorks...

Shockadow
Shockadow

ALL 125 OF THEM ARE REPUBLICANS

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Uhmmm no.  Republicans go to Yale.  SOCIALISTS go to Hahvahd.

foxsoxcox
foxsoxcox

As an alum of Harvard Business School, I can attest to the fact there are many young Republicans attending classess in Cambridge. Most of them eagerly waiting to graduate and get jobs on Wall St, where they'll rake in the big bucks. So fear not, greed is alive and well in Boston.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Ahh yess.. the failed Socialists DO go to Wall Street where they drown their sorrows in a vampiresque orgy of other people's financial blood, ruing the day they did not make the grade and have a REAL feast in the taxes of the proletariat.  Not EVERY Hahvahd man is designed to be as completely devoid of ethics as the current administration!  Some must make do with  the lesser accomplishments of the Barry Madoff world. 

maroneymeme
maroneymeme

Uh wrong, Yale has always been the far more progressive school of the two.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Oh I'd disagree!! FDR, JFK, BOTH Clintons, AND Obama are all Hahvahd graduates.  Yale's been in the Bush Leagues by comparison.    By the results, it's Hahvahd by a Taxing Lead!!!!

Maureen Owen
Maureen Owen

Must be why Harvard outranks Yale academically.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

And Hahvahd is DARN proud of it's Socialist Record!!!  FDR!! JFK!!  CLINTON!  OBAMA!!    When the histories are written, I'm sure history will bow to Hahvahd as the true enemy of the founding fathers.  Fitting, as John Adams War started in Boston, so should the death of the Republic be seeded from the same source.

frankblank
frankblank

Your post seems to have uncovered someone who knows what he thinks socialism is: Americans.

Tom Woods
Tom Woods

Not sure I see the difference. Republicans want to turn the guns on peaceful people in other countries, and socialists want to turn them on peaceful people in this country.