Between 60 and 70 Harvard students were forced to withdraw from school on Friday in the ultimate conclusion of a cheating scandal that could have happened at any school, but withdrawing probably doesn't mean what you think it does.
It's a classic case of a bird course gone bad: The New York Times reports Harvard's Intro to Congress class used to have a reputation for being pretty slack, with optional attendance and lots of group work. Varsity athletes loved it. But last year the course took a turn for the challenging.
It got hard, and then 125 students were busted for cheating. The school released their anticipated discipline report Friday. Half of the students implicated in the scandal were forced to withdraw from Harvard for at least two semesters, a quarter were given a stern warning and a note in their student record, and the rest were let off scott-free. "Withdrawing from Harvard" isn't the same as being put on academic suspension at other schools, though. Usually a student is forced to sit out a year before that can return. But Harvard students are "sentenced to six months' hard time in the real world," as the Boston Herald's O'Ryan Johnson explains:
The punishment came down on 60 crimson students ordered to “withdraw” — a forced break that can only be absolved after the ousted undergrads hold “a full-time, paid, non-academic job in a non-family situation” for at least half a year, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences Michael D. Smith wrote in an email yesterday.
Poor folk, being forced to mingle with the rest of us. And to get jobs without help from Uncle Nepotism! They might as well start calling Michael D. Smith the "Crimson Hammer."
So, what did these kids do? They were accused of conspiring to cheat on the class's final take-home exam, but were busted when some answers were a little too similar. "Administrators said that on final-exam questions, some students supplied identical answers, down to, in some cases, typographical errors, indicating that they had written them together or plagiarized them," the Times reports.
Literally every other college kid in the world is laughing right now because of a bunch of Harvard students were dumb enough to copy answers on a take-home. Idiots, the rest of the nation's students are collectively saying right now. I've gotten away with that before. Why am I not going to Harvard?