Panel Discusses Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity Panel
Connie Yan

Cabot House Co-Master Rakesh Khurana listens to Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister share his thoughts on the culture of academic integrity. The panel, titled "Doing Good Work in a Noisy, Messy World," was moderated by Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, who is also Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.

At a faculty-led conversation about academic integrity on Thursday afternoon, more than 70 administrators, students, and members of the faculty gathered and discussed campus academic and extracurricular culture and how to best encourage academic honesty at Harvard.

The event, which featured a panel of faculty members and administrators including Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister and Co-Master of Cabot House Rakesh Khurana, is one of a series of discussions being held at the College on academic integrity issues. Previously, administrators solicited feedback in the Houses following a proposal in April of what would be Harvard’s first-ever honor code.

At the discussion Thursday, students and faculty raised several concerns about campus attitudes surrounding academic honesty, and panelists offered their own perspectives on the issue.

Addressing the attendees, Pfister talked about the consequences of cheating and put integrity in a larger context. “We would probably all admit that cheating can be pretty widespread,” he said.

Dhruv P. Goyal ’16, an Undergraduate Council representative from Lowell House, commented on the admissions process, noting that he did not have to write about integrity on his application.


Academic Integrity Panel

Academic Integrity Panel

Other attendees suggested that more small classes might better foster student-faculty relationships and thereby encourage students to adhere to standards of academic honesty. Attendees also discussed the impact of pass/fail classes and whether or not it would be helpful to require students to take a certain number of courses pass/fail.

In an interview after the event, Academic Integrity Committee member Sietse K. Goffard ’15 said he was “very satisfied” with the discussion.

“I think it’s really important that everyone participate in this discussion, and so what I really look forward to is having large turnout and having people from all across the College really partake in this,” said Goffard.

The panel event on Thursday is part of a broader, ongoing discussion about academic integrity at the College, which comes after news of the Government 1310 cheating scandal, Harvard’s largest cheating case in recent memory, broke last fall. Roughly 125 students were investigated by the Administrative Board after being accused of plagiarizing or inappropriately collaborating on the course’s final take-home exam.

Amidst this increasing focus on academic integrity issues on campus, several members of the Academic Integrity Committee are working on the first draft of Harvard’s honor code, with a goal of completing a draft of the policy by the start of November.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.