While modern technology has greatly benefitted many students in recent years—especially amid the pandemic—it can also make students more vulnerable to accusations of cheating. None are more aware of this fact than the 17 or more medical school students at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire who were recently accused by the school of cheating on exams online and threatened with expulsion.
According to news reports, the school claims to have “electronic evidence” that numerous students taking an exam on an online platform were looking at unauthorized course materials on a separate platform, Canvas, while taking the test. Many of the accused students say their computers automatically “ping” the Canvas app periodically and that they were not actually looking at the forbidden materials at the time of the exam.
A Case of Oversensitivity?
The question this story highlights is whether schools fully understand the technology they are using, and therefore whether they are wrongly accusing students of cheating as a result. Critics of Dartmouth Medical school, along with some of the accused students, believe the school is being overly sensitive to possible cheating scenarios while misinterpreting their own data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy advocacy group, wrote the following criticism regarding the Dartmouth investigation: “Proctoring tools and investigations like this one at Dartmouth flag students based on flawed metrics and misunderstandings of technical processes, rather than concrete evidence of misconduct.”
The school claims it is only “following the facts” and evaluating the accused students' defenses on a case-by-case basis. Three students had already been exonerated by April 15, while ten other cases were pending. Nevertheless, many of the accused students say the looming threat of expulsion has piled on additional mental anguish at a time when the pandemic is already taking a toll on students' mental health. Several of the accused students even claim they felt coerced by the school into admitting wrongdoing although they were innocent, having been told that expressing remorse would result in a more positive outcome with the judicial committee.
The Perils of Unfair Allegations
Medical schools understandably feel pressure to maintain a pristine academic reputation, and for this reason, they often pursue academic misconduct incidents aggressively and punish them severely. But when the school misinterprets its own data or purports circumstantial evidence as fact, it can put an innocent student's entire professional future into jeopardy. If you have been wrongfully accused of cheating, having a skilled attorney-advisor in your corner can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped accused students across the nation reclaim their reputations and save their careers. To discuss the details of your case, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.