Facing academic and financial deadlines, some of the Harvard students suspected in a cheating scandal have decided to take a leave of absence rather than face possible suspension for a year, according to people briefed on the matter.
Harvard officials declined to confirm or deny a report on Tuesday by Sports Illustrated that one of the university’s star basketball players, Kyle Casey, was among the students withdrawing, and he could not be reached for comment. The university also would not say how many of the students have so far taken a voluntary leave, or how many of those are varsity athletes.
Tuesday was officially the last day that undergraduate students could withdraw without being responsible for any tuition payment, though several hundred dollars in fees, room and board could still be assessed. But an academic calendar published by Harvard incorrectly listed the deadline as Wednesday, so university officials said tuition-free withdrawals would be accepted on that day as well.
Tuesday was also the last day to register for classes for the semester that began a week earlier.
The university revealed on Aug. 30 that it was investigating the possibility that almost half of the students in one undergraduate course had committed “academic dishonesty” on a take-home final exam last spring, either collaborating on answers or plagiarizing them outright. Harvard would not name the course, but several of the students who were accused identified it as a government course, Introduction to Congress, with 279 students, meaning that well over 100 were under suspicion, making this the university’s largest case of cheating in memory.
The course had a reputation for easy grading and little required effort, and had a large contingent of student-athletes looking to make room for their time commitment to sports, according to the students. But for reasons that remain unclear, Matthew B. Platt, the assistant professor who taught the class, made it much harder last year, they said.
学生们表示，这门课因为学习轻松又容易得高分而颇受好评，并且有相当数量的学生运动员为了给运动腾出时间而修这门课。但出于不明原因，他们说教授这门课的助理教授马修·B·普拉特(Matthew B. Platt)去年把这门课的难度提高了不少。
It falls to the Harvard College Administrative Board to look into each student’s case and pass judgment, which is expected to take months.
如此，检查每一个学生的考试并做出判断的重任就落到了哈佛大学管理委员会(Harvard College Administrative Board)的肩上，这项工作预计会耗时数月。
Some of the students said in interviews last week that they had produced nearly identical answers on the exam because they had shared class notes or sought help with the test from graduate students who were their teaching fellows, which they understood to be allowed. Others acknowledged collaborating with fellow students, despite explicit instructions on the test not to do so, but said that behavior was widely accepted.
Harvard’s rules provide a range of potential punishments for cheating, the most severe being forced withdrawal for a year, but for varsity athletes, there is an added risk. An athlete has a maximum of four years of eligibility to play for the school, and one who took part in even a single game, and then was suspended for the year, would have used up one of those years. But withdrawing before playing could preserve that eligibility for a future year.
At least a few of the students under investigation have withdrawn, or plan to do so, according to a Harvard official and an athlete who has conferred with some of the departing students. The student said that some of those who are leaving are athletes.
Both people were granted anonymity to discuss a topic that the university considers confidential.
From 2005 to 2010, on average, 17 students per year were required to leave for academic dishonesty. More than 200 per year took voluntary leaves for a variety of reasons.