Students, not admin, complain about cheating



I’ve written many times how extraordinary the cheating is in higher education today. While certainly we can point at the students as responsible, a big reason for why it’s so out of control is administration actually encourages cheating.

I’ve seen professors lose their jobs over catching cheaters, and certainly losing pay is quite possible for professors so boneheaded as to catch cheaters. Random checks for cheating usually show 20% to 50% of the class is cheating, in many classes…but faculty (usually) don’t dare do anything about it: catching cheaters leads to the cheaters complaining to admin, and admin comes down on faculty students complain about. Throw in that cheaters are seldom removed from class, and get to “evaluate” the professor (and thus influence whether the professor will be allowed to continue doing his job), and students get the message pretty clearly: cheating is a perfectly acceptable way to get through college.

The whole system is set up to make it all but impossible to do anything about cheaters, simply because getting rid of cheaters cuts into the only thing admin cares about: growth of the institution. Rather than risk the ire of the irresponsible administration that runs our institutions, most professors just look the other way now.

Now, much of what goes on in higher education today is pretty irrelevant. Standards have been reduced to the point that many courses no longer require any reading or writing, much less have tests that require any effort to pass, as is well documented. Even if the course requires effort, nobody really cares if the student cheats his way through Gender Studies, Communication, African Studies, or quite a few other fields, because it just doesn’t matter.

But the culture of cheating created by admin is spreading now to the “real” majors, the ones where people can actually die if the practitioner has no clue what he’s doing. A recent scandal at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) really highlights the situation:

The warnings and directives came after the newspaper learned last month of allegations that two students with ties to high-ranking public officials were brought before the Honor Council. 

The Honor Council recommended that the students be expelled,… 

On many campuses, professors no longer make the decisions about cheating accusations. Instead, admin has set up “Honor Councils” which use a high, high, standard of proof before actually calling a student a cheater. I’ve dealt with these, and while I totally respect reluctance to convict someone innocent, you basically need a signed confession of cheating by the student before the Honors Council will actually determine the student is actually cheating.

I exaggerate, perhaps, but the bottom line is, if the Honors Council is agreeing the students should be punted from the school, you better believe the evidence is perfectly convincing.

Great, the Honors Council does the job that the course professor used to do. We’re done, right? Not so fast:

“…but a dean overruled its decision, sources told the newspaper. “

Administration is out of control on campus because they literally can do whatever they want. Yes, there are hundreds of pages of rules and regulations but, bottom line, there’s no way to stop an administrator from doing as he pleases (except possibly another administrator, but good luck with that).

As always, the Seal of Silence comes down, to protect the obvious skullduggery going on here:

“In a follow-up letter Sept. 8 to Sausser and the newspaper’s publisher, Drachman warned Sausser not to contact Honor Council members, who are “not permitted to disclose information about those proceedings.” Drachman also is the Honor Council’s attorney.”

As a public institution, many of the records involving the case are, at least technically, public information. Admin responds the only way it can, with lies:

In a letter Sept. 1, MUSC attorney Annette Drachman said the university would not turn over any documents related to the Honor Council or any reports and emails related to test-cheating allegations. She cited state and federal privacy laws.

She also said an email search would “be unduly burdensome and may cost in excess of $275,000. In addition, a search of this nature would take several months to accomplish.” Drachman then said the university would do the search “upon receipt of payment.” 

Wait, what? Now you have to pay a huge sum of money just to see the public records? It’s going to take months? This lie is so obvious on the face of it. This wasn’t the OJ Simpson trial here, we’re talking a few dozen pages at absolute most. Maybe the university is using a Fred Flinstone bird to peck out the words on a block of stone? Many printers take less than 2 seconds a page, if we offer to pay for the printer, can that speed up the process?

It would if they were telling the truth.

Anyway, administrators undermining the integrity of the school, lying, and threatening people not to talk are hardly news, that’s just everyday business in higher education today. Here’s the real news:

MUSC students livid over handling of cheating inquiry

I really want to point out, while students are protesting the acts of this one administrator…there are no administrators saying “yeah, this is corrupt, we should stop this.” Perhaps what we’re seeing in our presidential election, where the “rank and file” have had enough of a thoroughly corrupt establishment, is being reflected at this school?

MUSC is a medical school, you see, and so the other students realize if the school has a crap reputation, it’ll hurt them. Admin doesn’t care in the least about hurting students, of course:

Fielding a barrage of angry questions from medical students Monday night after an alleged cheating scandal, the dean of the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine said that the case in question is closed

The whole point of having an Honors Council was so that one biased faculty member couldn’t unfairly hurt a student with a false cheating charge. And now we have a single administrator stepping in and unfairly hurting the entire student body by covering up true cheating charges. How is this any better?

One medical school student who attended the meeting but asked not to be named said his classmates were agitated and “couldn’t wait to ask questions.” Most of them “walked out angry,” he said. More than 100 students attended the meeting, but nearly half had walked out by the time it was finished.

Of course they walked out, once they realized they were just going be stonewalled, that the integrity of their degrees was being annihilated and there was nothing they could do about it, they walked away.

You better believe students planning to go to MUSC are likewise walking away, in search of an institution with integrity.

I wish them luck in finding one.