Harvard cheats go on leave

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  • Published 13.09.12

Sept. 12: Facing academic and financial deadlines, some of the Harvard students suspected in a cheating scandal have decided to take a leave of absence rather than face possible suspension for a year, according to people briefed on the matter.

Harvard officials declined to confirm or deny a report yesterday by Sports Illustrated that one of its star basketball players, Kyle Casey, was among the students withdrawing, and he could not be reached for comment. The university also would not say how many of the students have so far taken a voluntary leave, or how many of those are varsity athletes.

Yesterday was officially the last day that undergraduate students could withdraw without being responsible for any tuition payment, though several hundred dollars in fees, room and board could still be assessed.

But an academic calendar published by Harvard incorrectly listed the deadline as today, so university officials said tuition-free withdrawals would be accepted on that day as well.

Yesterday was also the last day to register for classes for the semester that began a week earlier.

The university revealed on August 30 that it was investigating the possibility that almost half of the students in one undergraduate course had committed “academic dishonesty” on a take-home final exam last spring, either collaborating on answers or plagiarising them outright.

It falls to the Harvard College Administrative Board to look into each student’s case and pass judgment, which is expected to take months.

Some of the students said in interviews last week that they had produced nearly identical answers on the exam because they had shared class notes or sought help with the test from graduate students who were their teaching fellows, which they understood to be allowed.

Harvard’s rules provide a range of potential punishments for cheating, the most severe being forced withdrawal for a year. From 2005 to 2010, on average, 17 students per year were required to leave for academic dishonesty.