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Harvard University Students Are Involved In the Biggest Cheating Scandal

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Harvard, which is one of the most well-known universities worldwide and the one, whose name has become a synonym for elite educations, is now drawn into a pretty nasty row featuring 125 of its undergraduate students who allegedly cheated on their end-of-the-semester take-home exam last spring.

The students, who constitute about 50% of the whole class, are believed to have “inappropriately collaborated” while fulfilling their assignment, which consisted of a number of questions and an essay writing.

Supposedly, the students communicated via e-mails and might have shared their answers with each other. Although, there is no evidence of students’ having copied texts from the Internet or other sources, their work is basically a violation of the university’s no-collaboration policy. The fact of cheating was revealed when one of the teaching fellows spotted close resemblance of some exam papers. As soon as the professor and the Administrative Board of Harvard College were notified, it was decided to open a formal investigation.

Jay Harris, who is the dean of undergraduate education at Harvard, said the university could not reveal the names of students or the class for such information was of confidential nature. However, he assured that all those implicated in the scandal would attend a special hearing and if the fact of cheating was proved they would most likely be suspended for a year or have their diplomas revoked.

Many students who posted anonymously said they were greatly confused by the test requirements and misled by the professor’s “contradictory signals about what was expected”. It is known that the class used to meet 3 times a week and regular sessions were held with teaching fellows. Students say some T.F.’s were more willing to assist students than others however both were accessible and thus every student could go to see them on some questions they did not understand. So it is not really surprising the answers were very similar, they say.

The name of the instructor who delivered lectures became known. Matthew B. Platt, an assistant professor of ‘Introduction to Congress’ course, is said to be a little too tolerant and understanding when it comes to grading his students’ works. However, no official comments have been made by him or his assistants on the issue so far.

Harvard president Drew Faust said such conduct was simply unacceptable and made it clear for everyone that there was work to be done to ensure better quality of students’ preparation as well as instructions.

Harvard administration does not intend to carry out any other investigation of courses unless they have reasons to believe something is wrong there. However, some officials say the work is being done to elaborate a number of preventive measures to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.


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