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Dartmouth fraud scandal uncovered after students were monitored online


Dartmouth Medical School charged 17 students with fraud after the Ivy League school covertly monitored their online activities – and then had them defended against Zoom.

The Geisel School of Medicine claimed the students accessed the online course platform Canvas during virtual exams and gave themselves an unauthorized open-book test.

But the prestigious New Hampshire school is now grappling with claims that the probe is flawed.

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The school’s students held a protest on campus and some of the accused scammers came forward to claim they had been advised to admit the charges in order to receive a lighter sentence.

“What happened to me last month, even though I wasn’t cheating, resulted in one of the most terrifying and isolating experiences of my life,” freshman Sirey Zhang told the New York Times.

The scam probe was launched in January when a faculty member watched students access the online learning platform Canvas during exams, the school said in a statement posted to the Post on Monday.

The New Hampshire school went back to looking at online activity for the entire school year, Dartmouth said. The students practically took tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNITED STATES - JUNE 2: A sign will be posted outside the Dartmouth Medical School admissions office on the Ivy League's smallest school, Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA on Tuesday June 2, 2009.  (Photo by Cheryl Senter / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – JUNE 2: A sign will be posted outside the Dartmouth Medical School admissions office on the Ivy League’s smallest school, Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA on Tuesday June 2, 2009. (Photo by Cheryl Senter / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Cheryl Senter / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Past exam activities have been started to ensure fairness for all students, including those who are not suspected of violating but whose grades could be affected by changes in their peers’ scores,” the statement said.

Some groups accused New Hampshire College of possibly misreading the data. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a joint letter to the college saying that students may have been logged on to cell phones or other computers and were not cheating.

“Dartmouth has likely made accusations of academic misconduct out of false positives and taken enforcement action against innocent students based on flawed technical evidence,” the groups said in the March letter delivered to the Post.

However, by using data page views rather than canvas logs, the school was able to determine that most of the cases were not deliberate and did not violate the school’s honor policy.

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Around 17 students were still charged with possible violations of the Code and were forced to attend school committee hearings on student performance and behavior in March.

Seven have been denied allegations against them, the school said. On April 16, the school said the remaining 10 were notified of the recommended sanctions against them.

Three have been expelled, others are being suspended and disciplined. This comes from a petition signed by 160 students received from Valley News.

Some of the students admitted the allegations because they were warned by the Office of Student Affairs that students who do so will receive less severe penalties, the letter said.

“The students felt that they were choosing between admitting guilt and their future as a doctor,” the letter said.

“Confused and vulnerable, many students accepted the leadership’s advice on student affairs and apologized for the alleged violations,” he continued. “These are not valid admissions of guilt and should be ignored”

The letter said accused students had shared their experiences of “suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and inability to eat or sleep” via an Instagram account that has now been deleted.

Students protested Dartmouth’s handling of the fraud probe outside the dean’s office last month, the news reported.

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Students can now appeal if there is information that was not available at the time of the initial decision or if there is evidence that the school committee did not properly follow its own guidelines.

If an appeal is found valid, an appeal committee has four weeks to schedule another hearing.

“We are working to ensure that all relevant concerns are taken into account fairly and promptly,” said the college’s statement.

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