Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Their Cheating Was Even More Rampant Than Last Year, Sir

Big news out of Beantown as a Cheating Probe Hits Harvard's Teams (WSJ-sub req):

Harvard University has been abuzz since the Ivy League university announced recently that it's investigating whether 125 students cheated on an undergraduate take-home final exam last spring—an alleged scandal that Harvard said would be the biggest of its kind.

Now, there are reports that the inquiry is jolting Harvard's basketball team, which in March reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946.

Harvard senior and basketball team co-captain Kyle Casey, a 6-foot-7-inch forward and the Crimson's leading scorer last season, is set to withdraw from school and miss the upcoming season after being probed in the scandal, Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday.

Harvard basketball coach Tommy Amaker didn't return a phone call requesting comment, and Casey couldn't be reached Tuesday. Kurt Svoboda, Harvard's assistant director of athletics, declined to comment, citing privacy laws governing student academic records.

The university announced on Aug. 30 that the Harvard College Administrative Board is delving into whether some 125 students in a "Government 1310: Introduction to Congress" class inappropriately collaborated or copied classmates' responses on a take-home exam turned in last spring. The allegations emerged after the teacher noticed strangely similar answers on multiple exams.

I had three immediate reactions to this story.

1. Harvard has “take home” exams? And this is an elite school that all the "smart" people want to get into? Color me unimpressed with that sort of academic rigor.

2. This alleged activity doesn’t register high on my outrage meter. Saying the students “inappropriately collaborated” seems reasonable, but when it comes to cheating this seems like a pretty low bar. Quick show of hands from everyone out there who NEVER engaged in a bit of “inappropriate collaboration” outside the classroom in the course of your schooling either at the primary, secondary, or post-secondary level. That’s what I thought.

3. These kids are supposedly smart enough to get into fair Harvard, yet they’re not smart enough to make sure they copy from each other without making it obvious? Doesn’t exactly sound like we’re dealing with the best and brightest here.