Stanford University investigates ‘unusually high’ number of cheaters

The pressure is on as California’s prestigious University of Stanford probes allegations that a surprisingly high number of students cheated during the winter term.

John Etchemendy, the university’s provost, recently sent a letter to faculty members detailing what he called “an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty.” While a number of classes are being investigated, one faculty member reported to the Office of Community Standards that as many as 20 percent of the students in a large introductory course may have cheated.

The school is taking these allegations very seriously. “In violating academic integrity, they [the students] are cheating themselves of the very core of our mission — the process of learning and discovery — as well as risking severe consequences,” stated Etchemendy in his letter.

All Stanford students are required to agree to a statement of academic integrity known as the Honor Code. According to the Stanford University website, the Honor Code was written by students in 1921, and it “articulates University expectations of students and faculty in establishing and maintaining the highest standards in academic work.”

However, Etchemendy wrote, “with the ease of technology and widespread sharing that is now part of a collaborative culture, students need to recognize and be reminded that it is dishonest to appropriate the work of others.”

University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin did not divulge details of the current investigation, but she insisted, “We have a lot of classes and a lot of students. It’s not unusual to have a handful of concerns raised every term.” According to Lapin, 83 Stanford students violated the Honor Code in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Accused students are offered the opportunity to defend themselves against any allegations of cheating. The typical punishment for a first-time violator is suspension for a quarter and 40 hours of community service. Subsequent violations result in more severe disciplinary action.

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