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Around 60 students disciplined over final exam cheating scheme: Harvard

BOSTON -- Harvard University said Friday it issued academic sanctions against about 60 students who were forced to withdraw from school for a period of time in a cheating scandal that involved the final exam in a class on Congress, drawing criticism from a high-profile alumnus.

The school implicated as many as 125 students in the scandal when officials first addressed the issue last year.

The inquiry started after a teaching assistant in a spring semester undergraduate-level government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.

In a campus-wide email Friday, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said the school's academic integrity board had resolved all the cases related to the cheating probe.

He said “somewhat more than half” of the cases involved students who had to withdraw from the college for a period of time.

Harvard said that the length of a student's withdrawal period is usually from two to four terms.

Of the cases left, about half the students got disciplinary probation. The rest weren't disciplined.

Some athletes became ensnared, including two basketball team co-captains whom the school scratched from its team roster in the wake of the cheating investigation.

Past reports in The Harvard Crimson also linked football, baseball and hockey players to the scandal.

Smith's said in Friday's email that the school wouldn't discuss specific student cases. A school spokesman, citing student privacy, also wouldn't say if any athletes had withdrawn or say which teams might have been affected.

The dean said a school committee is working on recommendations to strengthen a culture of academic honesty and promote ethics in scholarship.

“This is a time for communal reflection and action,” he wrote. “We are responsible for creating the community in which our students study and we all thrive as scholars.”

Staples founder Thomas Stemberg, a Harvard graduate whose son is a student, on Friday criticized the school's handling of the probe.

“If you challenge the entire faculty at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Law School to come up with a process that took more time, cost more money, embarrassed more innocent students, and vindicated guilty faculty ... that could not have outdone the process that took place,” he said.

The class was known as “Introduction to Congress,” and widely seen on campus as an easy way to get a good grade.

Harvard Undergraduate Council President Tara Raghuveer said Friday that the cheating investigation has been a hot topic on campus for months. She said some students started the new school year without knowing if they'd be allowed to finish it because of the lengthy period of time the probe took.

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