Buzz

A swath of students at one of the nation’s most prominent universities stand accused of cheating.

At Stanford University – considered an unofficial Ivy League school on the West Coast – Provost John Etchemendy reports that “an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty [were] reported to our Office of Community Standards at the end of winter quarter.”

The winter quarter there began in early January and ended March 13.

“Among a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses, one faculty member reported allegations that may involve as many as 20 percent of the students in one large introductory course,” Etchemendy stated in his memo, published Tuesday. “While OCS investigates the larger matter and students are being notified, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our role in helping students understand the seriousness of academic dishonesty.”

Etchemendy warned technology may be at the root of some of the problems.

“At the beginning of our students’ Stanford careers, they are introduced to the Honor Code and agree to abide by it,” he stated. “But 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. …”

“I ask you to continue to reflect on ways to discuss the importance of academic integrity frankly and openly with our students. When collaboration in a class is encouraged, as I do in my classes, do we make certain that the parameters for collaboration are clear to the students? Do we provide guidance for the use of technology? And are students aware that we really will seek to identify and report concerns that may arise?”

It’s not unheard of for students at prominent universities to use technology to cheat.

Earlier this year, Dartmouth College charged 64 students with honor code violations following allegations of widespread cheating in a sports ethics class. In that case, the class reportedly used tech called “clickers” to engage students during class – and apparently to check for attendance – and students were pretending to be their absent peers. Last May at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York that’s affiliated with Columbia University, students allegedly used their smartphones to pass answers back and forth.

It’s also not unheard of for students at prominent universities to cheat without using tech. Harvard University, for example, was hit with a massive cheating scandal in 2013. In that case, dozens of student athletes collaborated on a take-home exam.

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The documentary The Hunting Ground, which purports to show a rape epidemic on college campuses and indifferent administrator responses, is getting unexpected scrutiny at Harvard.

The Crimson reports that the film “misrepresents statistics on instances of reported sexual assault at Harvard, calling the rigor of the film’s fact-checking process into question”:

In one sequence, a series of slides lists various schools and the number of sexual assaults reported there in a given time period compared to the number that led to expulsion. The film lists that from 2009-2013, Harvard College saw 135 cases of reported sexual assault, but only 10 expulsions.

Those numbers are misleading.

The article explains that those figures might also apply to incidents outside of Harvard College, leading to a sharply lower assault rate: “Harvard College has roughly 6,400 students, while Harvard University as a whole includes about 20,000.”

The film also misrepresents who has authority over expulsions:

According to five-year statistics that are currently available online, the Ad[ministrative] Board required 10 students to withdraw from the College between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2014 in disciplinary cases under the general category of “social behavior – sexual.”

Those students, however, were not necessarily expelled, but rather required to leave the College temporarily with the possibility of readmittance. In fact, the Ad Board cannot expel students. Only a vote of the Faculty Council can, and it happens rarely.

Furthermore, cases listed under the broad “social behavior – sexual” category are not necessarily sexual assault cases; the case statistics are not so specific.

The film includes a “prank” clip that is clearly fake, The Crimson says:

The student in the film, Nicole C. Hirschhorn ’16, was a sophomore at Harvard when she acted out the scene for campus comedy group On Harvard Time. After viewing that segment of the film, she confirmed that the clip in “The Hunting Ground” is from the prank video. She called the video “definitely fake.”

The short clip is included in the film with no indication that it is not authentic.

Read the story.

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Among the hubbub over a just-signed law in Indiana concerning the role of religious wedding professionals in same-sex weddings – including a threatened cancellation of a gamer convention – one professor is asking everyone to chill.

Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, writes at Religion News Service that the law – modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act – and other states’ legislation are “far from guarantees of a religious right to discriminate”:

[State] RFRAs would have courts apply the standard of “strict scrutiny” when free exercise claims are made, meaning that when someone asks for a religious exemption from a law the government must demonstrate that it has a “compelling interest” and that it has advanced that interest by the “least restrictive means.” Thus, a sincerely cannibalistic sect could be prevented from exercising its faith by the compelling government interest in protecting human life and the least restrictive means of forbidding the killing and eating of people.

The same principle holds when it comes to serving mixed-race couples, another bogeyman of Indiana RFRA opponents:

As the Court made clear when it banned anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia (1967), the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting racial discrimination with respect to marriage. And the least restrictive means of prohibiting it is, simply, not to permit religious exceptions to laws banning racial discrimination in matters related to marriage. So even though it was once common to cite Scripture as the basis for opposing “race mixing,” the courts won’t give florists, bakers etc. the religious right to refuse their services to mixed-race couples.

What we should all be focused on, Silk says, is whether the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage bans – in which case the state RFRAs will be pointless regarding gay marriage.

Read the column.

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Ithaca College’s student government has the perfect antidote for those pesky “microaggressions”: A new online reporting system where students can tattle on their classmates’ “belittling” or “isolating” words and/or behavior.

If you’re new to the definition of “microaggression,” here’s Ithaca freshman (isn’t that very term a sexist microaggression?) Angela Pradhan to assist you:

“[M]icroaggressions are statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more. Examples include statements like ‘Where are you really from?’ ‘You speak good English,’ and ‘You don’t look disabled.’”

Thanks, Angela.

The Ithaca Voice reports:

Q: How has the response been from your SGA and student peers?

Angela Pradhan: From SGA, a lot people supported it. They were confused about how it would actually play out, but they voted yes.

Senator-at-large Josh Kelly voted no because he believed that the intent…was the legal action. My thing for this is not to have legal action as the immediate or first priority or first step.

This is just a reporting system. Legal action wasn’t even at the forefront of our agenda. It’s more so that there is an actual documentation of events.

Q: So it’s more for record-keeping?

AP: Record-keeping but with impact. It’s not that we are going to keep these records and not do anything about these instances.

But it’s not to the degree that every instance will require trial or some kind of harsh punishment.

Q: Would that mean working with the victim, or the person who allegedly committed the microaggression, or both?

AP: That would be worked out on a case by case basis. We are working on getting a committee formed. People are asking who is this going to be reported to. We are working on getting a committee of administrators to really work on this, because there was an existing council already of administrators in the late 90s and early 2000s.

There’s still a lot to be worked out, Pradhan says.

If that last response from Pradham doesn’t worry you, even a little bit, then you must be fairly comfortable with Ithaca becoming a tiny totalitarian institution within central New York State.

As Reason’s Nick Gillespie says, “Pretty sure that’s what happened in Salem during the witch-trial days.”

He adds: “So remember, kids, you don’t go to college to learn new things and feed your head. You go to college to be subjected to an anonymous system of collecting information about the bad thoughts you have and the misstatements you make, some of which you might not even have intended to be hurtful.”

Read the full Ithaca Voice article.

h/t to Reason.

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A video released last night by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has drawn a sharp rebuke from Cornell University’s administration for creating a misleading picture of a conversation with a dean on how a student can help ISIS and Hamas.

The Cornell Review posted the video last night before replacing it with a statement from President David Skorton, saying “the notion that Cornell would allow ISIS training sessions on our campus is ludicrous and absolutely offensive.”

It continues in part:

Skortonstatement.CornellReview

In the video, it’s not clear that Assistant Dean of Students Joseph Scaffido realizes what the undercover student is talking about when he asks about sending care packages to “the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” for “freedom fighters.”

Scaffido responds: “There’s a lot of our student organizations that do things like that all over the world.”

The dean doesn’t seem confused at all, though, when the student asks if it would be a “problem” for a student club to support Hamas:

The university is not going to look at different groups and say you’re not allowed to support that group… I think the university wants the entire community to understand what’s going on in all parts of the world.

He calls Cornell’s home of Ithaca “a great place” and “very liberal” before saying that the student’s group could bring in a “freedom fighter” to speak, by requesting “four or five thousand dollars” in student funds.

The student never seems to define what he means by “freedom fighter.” When he asks whether such a person could do a “training camp” on campus, Scaffido analogizes that to “bringing in a coach” to train a sports team.

Is Scaffido just clueless about what “Islamic State” means?

Watch the video and judge for yourself.

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IMAGE: Project Veritas YouTube screenshot

Steven Carnine, a 25-year veteran teacher, has been accused of making “racially charged” comments in class — including the “N” word and saying that Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown “got what he deserved.”

The suit against the Los Angeles Unified School District “alleges civil rights violations and seeks unspecified damages as well as a court order directing that the LAUSD provide accommodations to students ‘free from prohibited discrimination.’”

The plaintiff, “Maggie B.,” alleges that Carnine distributed a questionnaire the day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday about racial stereotypes.

She claims that Carnine “said that the guy [Brown] was a thug and he got what he deserved,” and that “Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes.”

The Los Angeles Daily News reports:

Carnine went on to say that if he was walking alone at night and there were two black men behind him, he was “immediately going to be scared and think they are either going to steal from me or hurt me,” the lawsuit alleges.

The teacher also allegedly said, “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”

Carnine made the remarks while looking directly at the plaintiff and the one other black student in the class of about 30 pupils, the suit alleges.

Maggie, whose family was involved in the civil rights movement, became “intensely uncomfortable and uneasy by these comments,” the suit states.

The girl’s father complained to the school principal, Christopher Perdigao, who replied that Carnine was “old school” and that the best way to solve the issue was to try and meet with him, the suit alleges.

However, that same day, Carnine, during a lecture on the Civil War, stated that “people didn’t like Lincoln because he was a (N-word) lover,” the complaint alleges. Carnine was “staring and smirking” at the plaintiff when he made the remark, according to the suit.

What the LA Daily News doesn’t note is that many parents are coming to Carnine’s defense. A petition page has been established in support of the teacher.

One parent said that students were discussing the “N” word and Abraham Lincoln, whereupon Carnine led a discussion about how racism developed.

A student in the class said that Carnine did state that Mike Brown was a “thug,” but that “he absolutely did NOT deserve to be harassed like he was.”

On the RateMyTeachers website, Carnine had had “consistently high ratings” until news of the lawsuit hit the press.

Read the full LA Daily News article.

h/t The Daily Caller.

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