Harvard Students Forced to Withdraw in Cheating Scandal

4798More than half of the students implicated in a Harvard University cheating scandal that involved about 125 undergraduates were told to withdraw for as long as a year.

Harvard University's Business School stands in Boston. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
Of the remaining students linked to the probe, half were given probation, Michael Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said today in an e-mail to the Harvard community. The school said in August that the students were under investigation for inappropriate collaboration on a final exam.

"Every student contacted by the Administrative Board has been informed of the disposition of his or her individual case," Smith said, referring to the school's disciplinary body. School leaders will "redouble our efforts" to promote academic integrity, he said.

The cheating allegations at Harvard College, which has about 6,700 undergraduates, led to criticism from students who said the course's rules on collaboration were unclear. The magnitude of the scandal, which one official deemed "unprecedented in living memory," may have slowed the school's progress through the cases, said Robert Peabody, an attorney with Collora LLP in Boston who represented two of the implicated students.

"They're saying they took the time to get it right and make sure everyone had due process," he said in a telephone interview. "They could have been much more efficient."

'Laborious' Process

Students found to have cheated could be told to withdraw for two semesters, or receive a warning or be put on probation, Jay Harris, dean of undergraduate education, said in August.

The review process is "laborious" and gives students multiple opportunities to voice their views of the case, Smith said today.

"The review of a case takes exactly as long as it needs to take in order to ensure that a student receives a full and fair review, conforming to the high bar that the Faculty has set for the Board's proceedings," he said in the e-mail.

Many students went for months knowing that the Administrative Board might tell them to withdraw immediately, and their course work, along with tuition and room expenses for the semester, might be wasted, Peabody said. While both the students he represented withdrew during the semester because of the risk of being forced to do so, only one was required to withdraw, while the other was given probation, he said.

Source: Bloomberg | John Lauerman
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