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Dartmouth Cheating Scandal Ends with All Charges Dropped

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Aggressive Online Enforcement

A cheating scandal erupted recently at Dartmouth College, involving students at its distinguished Geisel School of Medicine. Allegations of cheating by as many as seventeen students at a prestigious Ivy League medical school were sure to draw at least some public attention. But the scandal drew even greater attention because of the school's aggressive use of online exam monitoring. Reports indicate that the school used monitoring technology, including page views and activity logs, to investigate suspected exam cheating.

Schools certainly have more technology tools at their disposal to catch academic misconduct. The online learning management system that Dartmouth College allegedly used to discern cheating, though, wasn't designed as a forensic tool. It doesn't necessarily distinguish human activity from automated functions, as the school soon learned from media reports and investigation. And aggressive use of any tools can snare innocent students, subjecting them to false and damaging charges of academic misconduct.

Student and National Backlash

Students at Dartmouth College were quick to respond to the cheating allegations. Innocent students claimed that the college used monitoring results to pressure them into admitting to cheating that they had not done. Those students called the false charges both terrifying and isolating. Students and faculty members joined campus protests against the charges, objecting to increased surveillance under the pandemic's remote instruction. Seven students managed to get the charges against them dropped, but Dartmouth proceeded against ten other students, even reaching recommendations to expel three students.

The backlash against the school soon broadened to include national organizations advocating for student rights. Reports indicate that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Dartmouth that innocent students might have just had their cellphones logged in rather than having deliberately accessed information to cheat. Innocent explanations can exist for guilty-appearing academic conduct.

A Reversal of Course

Fortunately, Dartmouth College got the message that the college community would not tolerate its over-aggressive monitoring and enforcement. Dartmouth has just dropped the academic misconduct charges against all seventeen students. Dartmouth's president, who had initially taken a combative stance, also apologized to the involved students and the college community.

The college denied that it had deprived its students of due process in the cheating scandal. Some students had claimed that the school had given them only forty-eight hours to respond to the charges and had restricted them to two-minute remote presentations in their own defense. But in its apology, the school recommitted to providing fair procedures through which students could duly challenge false charges.

Don't Give Up and Don't Give In

If the Dartmouth College cheating scandal teaches a student accused of academic misconduct anything, that lesson is not to give up and give in when facing false or exaggerated charges of academic misconduct. If you face an academic misconduct charge, don't panic, as terrifying and isolating as the charge may be. Instead, promptly retain national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your defense. Know and enforce your right to due process—call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation or use the online service.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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