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2012-2013 Ad Board Stats Reflect Three-Fold Spike in Academic Dishonesty Cases

Numbers Include Gov 1310 Scandal Cases

By Madeline R. Conway and Steven S. Lee, Crimson Staff Writers

Administrative Board statistics detailing the outcomes of cases heard by the disciplinary body in the last academic year show that, as expected, the number of students required to temporarily withdraw from the College for academic dishonesty was more than three times higher than the number in 2011-2012.

According to the statistics, released Friday on the Ad Board’s website after repeated requests from The Crimson, 97 students involved in academic integrity cases were required to withdraw in 2012-2013, the year that saw Harvard’s largest cheating investigation in recent memory.

Roughly 70 of those 97 students, according to previous statements from administrators, were implicated in the Government 1310 cheating scandal, in which about 125 students were accused of plagiarizing or inappropriately collaborating on the course’s final take-home exam.

This would mean that about 27 students outside of the Gov 1310 case were required to withdraw for academic dishonesty last year, a number consistent with the previous academic year, in which 26 students were required to withdraw in academic dishonesty cases.

The number of students who were placed on disciplinary probation due to academic dishonesty also rose to 31 in 2012-2013, compared to only 16 students in 2011-2012. Administrators have previously said that about half of the students implicated in the Gov 1310 case who were not required to withdraw were placed on probation. In 2012-2013, the Ad Board took no action in 14 academic dishonesty cases, compared to just one in 2011-2012.

Administrators have said since 2010 that they plan to increase the Ad Board’s transparency through the release of more detailed case summaries, but have delayed the release of that database in the years since, leaving the five-year statistics as the most detailed public information available on the body’s proceedings.

Until Friday, however, the 2012-2013 statistics were not publicly available on the Ad Board’s website. Now, as released, the public statistics include a count of the outcomes of cases in several broad categories, from academic dishonesty and “social behavior - alcohol” disciplinary cases to petitions for advanced standing.

According to Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister, the more detailed statistics that would be included in the database have been delayed by concerns over how to increase the Board’s transparency while still maintaining the privacy of students involved in its proceedings. He wrote in a statement that administrators have “not yet determined how to overcome this substantial hurdle.”

Pfister further wrote that with conversations regarding privacy concerns and the creation of a student-faculty honor board to hear academic integrity cases ongoing, he decided to release the 2012-2013 Ad Board statistics “in the same manner we had in the past.”

The 2012-2013 numbers are part of a document that includes Ad Board statistics from the past five academic years, since 2008-2009.

According to the statistics, the number of cases listed under the category of “social behavior - alcohol” decreased from 2011-2012. Last academic year, 52 cases under this category went before the Ad Board, while 69 such cases did in 2011-2012. The number of “House warnings” issued in disciplinary cases also decreased, to 74 last year from 109 in 2011-2012.

For cases of “academic review,” which involve students who receive unsatisfactory grades or fail to meet the College’s minimum academic requirements, the Ad Board voted to “take no action” in 87 of those cases in 2012-2013, more than double the number of votes in 2011-2012. According to the Ad Board website, the Board can vote to “take no action” and merely warn students in cases where an unsatisfactory student record results from “compelling and well-documented extenuating circumstances.”

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

—Staff writer Steven S. Lee can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenSJLee.

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