Assistant dean reprimands students in faculty email for threefold academic integrity violations


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Northwestern reported a threefold increase in academic integrity violations in the last academic year. Assistant Dean Ricardo Court expressed his frustration with students in an internal email sent to faculty.

Angeli Mittal, Design Editor

Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity Ricardo Court expressed concerns with students’ “carefree attitudes” and “clumsy” attempts to plagiarize in the 2020-21 academic year in a Sept. 29 email to faculty obtained by The Daily. 

Court reported a threefold increase in academic integrity violations last year, which he largely attributed to challenges presented by the pandemic.

After what was a complex year for everyone, it will come as no surprise that academic integrity cases were more numerous and complicated than ever,” Court wrote in the email. “If a silver lining is to be found, the majority of cases were the result of reactions to external stresses.” 

Court mentioned social media platforms such as “SnapChat, GroupMe and ‘finsta’ Instagram accounts” have played a large role in cheating during the pandemic. The assistant dean wrote that efforts to “breach these accounts to gather evidence” were difficult.

He also noted several instances of cheating that involved as many as 50 students in two STEM courses in which students reported their classmates for violating academic integrity. But he wrote he did not find this confrontation to be sufficient.

“In the end, the irony was lost on students complaining about their cheating classmates: they did not want to be the ones to provide evidence for cheating asking instead for consideration on grading curves,” Court wrote. “The unsatisfying end to this group of cases serves nonetheless to remind everyone of the importance of exam security in its many forms.”

Court also targeted the use of “prohibited resources” such as Chegg, an online learning platform, and online graphing calculators. He specifically questioned Chegg’s guarantee for quick answers by “expert tutors” at a low price and its interference as a “clear and present danger” to students.

The assistant dean did not specify the source of his information. It is also unclear in what situations the listed resources were forbidden, as some classes held remotely last year allowed for the use of online sources for assignments and exams.

Correction: A previous version of this story included a file illustration of a student studying that insensitively implicated that person’s racial identity within the context of the story. The featured image has since been updated. The Daily is committed to serving the communities we cover and equipping staff to report and edit sensitively and accurately. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @amittal27

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