64 Dartmouth Students Charged With Honor Code Violations


64 Dartmouth College students are likely wishing they had adhered to the school’s code of conduct as they face charges for honor code violations.

The students in question allegedly engaged in cheating and falsified attendance in their sports ethics class. The issue was brought to light in November when the Department of Religion Chairman, Randall Balmer, pointed the finger at many of his students and accused them of being dishonest about their attendance in his class. Balmer said that “with a few exceptions, most of the students were suspended for the term,” as a result.

Balmer claims the false attendance reporting was made possible with the use of the “clickers” used by students in class to participate in lectures by using them to ask questions and answer questions. These devices were reportedly handed off to other students who would then answer questions on the behalf of those not in attendance, thus attempting to fool the system. According to Balmer, 43 of the students charged participated in the false clicking.

Many of the students being charged are varsity athletes and are said to have a difficult time with some of Dartmouth’s rigorous educational requirements. This issue led to the creation of the sports ethics course last year. According to the Valley News, the first run of the class was pretty successful and at one point had around 280 students. Balmer notes that with the larger class size came the cheating and attendance issues.

Balmer often writes for the Valley News and published an essay in December titled “Whatever Happened to Honor at College?,” which focused on the the cheating and false attendance issue along with some scathing remarks for Dartmouth’s academic honor principle.

In his essay he wrote, “The whole affair is sad and regrettable. Dozens of students will very likely have a stain on their college transcripts. A level of trust between professors and student, so necessary for effective teaching and learning, has been broken. Dartmouth’s reputation as a first-class educational institution (which it is) has taken a hit, at least in the short term.”

The student handbook for Dartmouth College has a section which clearly outlines the repercussions of their actions should they be found in violation of the honor code. Here is a portion of the handbook describing possible actions that may be taken against the students charged:

“Given the fundamental nature of the Academic Honor Principle in an academic community, students should expect to be suspended if they engage in acts of academic dishonesty. Any student who submits work which is not his or her own, or commits other acts of academic dishonesty, violates the purposes of the College and is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or separation.”

In an email to the Valley News, Balmer wrote that he intends to drop the grades of each accused student by a full letter grade rather than failing them completely as the student handbook states he is able to do if he sees fit.

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