Last year, a massive cheating scandal at an elite New York high school prompted closer scrutiny of alleged cheating elsewhere. This year, it’s happening again, but at a higher level: the New York Times reports that more than 100 students at Harvard University are suspected of cheating and plagiarism on exams in a class on government (sadly, it was Introduction to Congress):
Harvard University revealed Thursday what could be its largest cheating scandal in memory, saying that about 125 students might have worked in groups on a take-home final exam despite being explicitly required to work alone. . . .
When final exams were graded in May, similarities were noticed in the answers given by some students, officials said, and a professor brought the matter to the administration immediately. Over the summer, Harvard’s administrative board conducted an initial review, going over the exams of all of the students in the class for evidence of cheating. It concluded that almost half of them showed signs of possible collaboration.
Like Stuyvesant in New York, Harvard is (obviously) one of the best schools at its level, if not the very best. If so many students in one class at America’s top university believe that cheating of this sort is acceptable, it is hard to imagine that the problem is not considerably more widespread than this report indicates.
This speaks volumes about the moral problems we are facing as a country. Some of these students will eventually become the leaders and businesspeople of the future, and the values they learn as students in school will shape the adults they eventually become. Something needs to change, and soon.