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Unusual Amount of Cheating Suspected at Stanford University

STANFORD, Calif. — An unusually high number of students at Stanford University are suspected of cheating during the most recent term, putting faculty members and administrators of the prestigious institution on alert.

University Provost John Etchemendy sent a letter to faculty members highlighting what he called “troubling allegations” that stem from “a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses,” the San Jose Mercury News reported Friday. Etchemendy said the students are cheating themselves and risk severe consequences.

All new students are told of the university’s honor code and agree to abide by it, he said.

“But with the ease of technology and widespread sharing that is now part of a collaborative culture,” he wrote, “students need to recognize and be reminded that it is dishonest to appropriate the work of others.”

University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin declined to discuss details with the newspaper, such as the course or grade level of the students, but she said such concerns are routine. She says that in the 2013-14 academic year, 83 students violated the honor code.

In the most recent term, the newspaper reported that one instructor believes that 20 percent of students in a large introductory course may have cheated. Lapin said that Etchemendy’s note underscored the need for faculty members to be clear with their students about expectations at Stanford, which prides itself as being one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities.

Students accused of cheating have the opportunity to defend themselves against the charge. First-time violators are usually suspended for a quarter and must perform 40 hours of community service, with increasing disciplinary action for subsequent violations.

“We have a lot of classes and a lot of students,” Lapin said. “It’s not unusual to have a handful of concerns raised every term.”

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