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Dartmouth College officials dropped charges of cheating against 63 computer science students in a surprise announcement Friday.
Last month, Rex Dwyer, a visiting computer science professor at Dartmouth, accused the students of cheating on a homework assignment, some by looking at answers on a portion of the website the professor accidentally left unlocked and some by getting help from their teaching assistants.
The college's honor board, the Committee on Standards, heard only 27 of the 63 cases before withdrawing the charges.
"The Committee concluded that some cheating did occur," Dean of the College James Larimore wrote in a letter to the Dartmouth community that will be distributed this week.
He also wrote that the "nature and the quality of the evidence" made it impossible to distinguish cheating students from those who were merely confused by the assignment's guidelines.
After hearing 34 hours of testimony, the Committee decided to drop all the charges.
Julie E. Green, a sophomore implicated in the cheating scandal, said she felt the college should have pursued the issue. She claims she did not cheat on the assignment.
"I feel the school is almost copping out," she said. "They should've gone after those students who genuinely cheated."
She said she believes at least a dozen students--those who looked on the website--did cheat on the homework.
"If you consider the collaboration cheating, then maybe it was a couple of dozen," she said.
But, she added, many students in other courses work together on assignments, without any charges of cheating.
Many students said the problem may lie with the course and its professor rather than the particular assignment.
According to students in the class, student-professor tensions ran high throughout the term. Some students said they think the professor was unqualified to teach the class.
"Both the professor and the students went into the class with different expectations, which were not met," sophomore Morgan P. Cain said. Cain, although a student in the class, was not implicated in the scandal.
College administrators admitted Dwyer might have been part of the problem.
"I don't think they'll extend his contract," Dean of the Faculty Edward Berger told Dartmouth's college newspaper. "As far as I know it will not extend further than that."
Officials also said they plan to review how visiting faculty are informed about the honor code.
Coupled with another cheating scandal at MIT last week, Dartmouth's case opened a national debate about cheating on college campus.
However, MIT's scandal ended even more abruptly last week, as it announced the suspected cheating was actual an error made by someone entering grades into a computer.
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