One lawyer said Harvard is unlikely to face lawsuits from students accused of cheating in CS50 because the cases are “awfully hard” to prosecute.
Some CS50 staffers said the course’s recent expansion and online availability of answer keys likely contributed to high levels of academic dishonesty.
FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said he was reluctant “to get involved too deeply” in the Computer Science department, where he still teaches.
Former students and course staff said course policy was unclear about what constituted cheating, creating the potential for unintentional violations.
The vast majority of 115 academic dishonesty cases the College’s Honor Council heard last academic year occurred in courses offered in the Sciences Division or the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, according to the adjudicating body’s first-ever annual report.
Eleven new students have been selected to serve on the College’s Honor Council next year, at a time when the adjudicating body has deliberately decreased its public presence.
During final exams, and on final papers and assignments, undergraduates have starting affirming their awareness of Harvard College’s first honor code, which went into effect this semester.
Undergraduate members of the student-faculty body tasked with implementing the College’s first honor code are reaching out to their classmates in dining halls and lecture halls about the goals and philosophy of the young committee.
Administrators acknowledge that a question that logically follows the honor code’s introduction is whether Harvard will move to expand students’ role in disciplinary procedures later on.
“The vast majority of faculty really do care, and the vast majority of students care. Yet I think a good portion of the time, we miss each other in unintentional ways,” said Brett Flehinger, the Honor Council’s secretary.
A study co-authored by Steven D. Levitt suggests that assigning students randomly to seats during exams significantly reduces instances of cheating.
Undergraduate members of the Honor Council—the student-faculty body tasked with enforcing the honor code—are adjusting their schedules as the Council hears its first slate of academic integrity cases.
It's days into the College's rollout of its first honor code, but many professors did not mention the policy in their course syllabi or during opening lectures on Wednesday.