Harvard students are fighting back against their school’s accusations of cheating on a take home exam for a course titled none other than, Introduction To Congress. According to Bloomberg News roughly 20 current and graduated students are talking to various media outlets, under anonymity, in an effort to clear their names. Rightfully so. Many of these students have debts that need to be paid off, and securing a job, just like in Congress, is the modus operandi.
In an ironic twist, this “scandal” has taken on government campaigning type characteristics, with the students claiming Harvard told the story that made the school look best. At the same time the students defend themselves and take a page right from the political game book by introducing the ever vague and subjective term “unfair”:
“There was a tone set by the nature of the class and the professor teaching the course that collaboration was OK,” the graduate said in a telephone interview. “Dragging us into this investigation now, when we have financial obligations and jobs, seems very unfair.”
None of the cases have been heard yet, however Jay Harris (Harvard’s Undergrad Dean) said that some students may be asked to sit out for two semesters. Depending on how much a students parent has donated to Harvard, in the spirit of Congress, some students may only receive a warning or probation.
BBG also reported that in May 2012 exactly 279 students were enrolled and 125 of them are accused of corroborating, a near 45% group participation rate. Finally may I add that the teacher has perfected the rules of government by covering up his actions (students claim he wanted to give out 120 A’s, didn’t mind if they skipped class, and encouraged note sharing) with written language telling students “not to discuss the exam with others, including tutors, writing centers, etc.” Which makes sense given the U.S.’s historical performance on the SAT reading.
Now it is all just a bit of semantics as students could claim they didn’t discuss the exam but merely topics that happened to, coincidentally, be on the exam. At least that is the route we would expect it to take being an Introduction To Congress course. And it’s Harvard, where hacking and information theft (think Facebook’s early years) result in lucrative scams against an ignorant American public fed by Wall Street’s bitch, CNBC. Everyone cheats and lies at some point in their lives, are we supposed to be surprised or appalled by this story? You’d think Harvard, of all places, would accept that economically rational people respond to incentives.