In the wake of the cheating scandal that rocked Harvard at the beginning of the school year, University President Drew G. Faust lamented the influence of current societal pressures and their impact on learning during an interview with The Crimson on Tuesday.
Faust, who has given few public statements on the controversy since news of it emerged in August, said that she fears that the desire for success causes students to miss out on the full benefits of a college education.
“I think the world puts those pressures so clearly on students that we need to think of ways to counteract that with an emphasis on how important the act of learning and the substance of learning is in itself,” Faust said.
Faust said that though the root of the problem extends far beyond campus gates, the University has a role to play in keeping students engaged and interested in learning for learning’s sake.
“It’s a kind of match between making sure we have intellectual excitement [in courses] and we have students who are interested in being intellectually excited,” she said.
Harvard first launched an investigation of 125 students in Matthew Platt’s government course “Introduction to Congress” in May after teaching fellows suspected that students may have plagiarized answers or inappropriately collaborated on the class’ final take-home exam.
Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris called the scope of the controversy “unprecedented in anyone’s living memory.”
Cheating allegations have led some of the accused students to temporarily withdraw from the College while the disciplinary process is underway.
The College’s Administrative Board will dole out a range of punishments to the students it finds guilty--from probation to forced withdrawal for the academic year.
Those who have voluntarily withdrawn include a number of athletes, most prominently, basketball co-captains Kyle D. Casey ‘13 and Brandyn Curry ’13.
Faust declined to discuss student athletes at Harvard in the context of the cheating scandal.
“This issue is not confined to one student group,” she said. “It includes a wide spectrum of students.”
Though attention surrounding the scandal has begun to fade since the news first broke, the topic remains on the minds of Harvard faculty members.
Faust addressed the controversy surrounding the cheating scandal in her opening statements during Tuesday’s faculty meeting.
“I hope it will provide an impetus for us to reflect on the responsibilities we all face as educators in sustaining the most constructive possible culture for learning across the College and the University,” she said, according to a report in Harvard Magazine.
Faust told The Crimson that she believed the issue had sparked an important discussion about cheating in higher education, pointing to peer institutions like Brown and Princeton that have revisited the issue on their campuses in the past month.
“People have written widely about it in ways that I think are very important,” said Faust. “I’m glad that that conversation was seeded by our actions.”
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.