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OSC looks into reports of cheating

The Office of Student Conduct is investigating reports of cheating on the third exam of an introductory chemistry class.

The nearly 250 students in Chemistry 31 titled “Core Concepts in Chemistry” took an exam Nov. 10 in two separate and consecutive sections, one in a Gross Chemistry Building lecture hall and the other in Griffith Film Theater. A “handful” of students are suspected of taking exams from the first administration of the test even though they were scheduled to take the test during the second time period, several students told The Chronicle. The students allegedly looked up answers before sitting again for the exam during the second section.

“Both places are relatively large and not very well supervised,” said Emma Blumstein, a freshman student in the course.

Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of OSC, confirmed in an e-mail that he is investigating reports of cheating but declined to comment on the specifics of the ongoing case. The course’s professors—Terrence Oas, associate professor of biochemistry, and Stephen Craig, associate professor of chemistry—declined to comment.

In a Wednesday e-mail addressed to students enrolled in the course, Oas noted that those who come forward before being contacted by Bryan will be exempted from suspension, “a likely outcome for anyone found to have cheated but who has not previously admitted doing so.” Those students were directed to contact Bryan immediately, “certainly by the end of the week.”

“As I announced in class today, I met with Dean Stephen Bryan yesterday and turned over to him the physical evidence we have collected of the cheating that took place during Exam 3 on November 10th,” Osa wrote. “Henceforth, Dean Bryan will be conducting the investigation and all communication regarding this incident should go through him.”

Oas told the class that students reported rumors of cheating, Blumstein said. Some students were concerned that widespread cheating could have affected the course’s curve.

Blumstein also noted that Oas said exam procedures may change—potentially improving surveillance and supervision as well as creating a stricter, more controlled environment.

“I do encourage anyone who may have been involved to come forward to me directly... which would be seen as a positive step toward self-accountability and would be taken into consideration in the disciplinary response,” Bryan wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

Freshman Lainey Williams, another Chemistry 31 student, said she is confident the incident is being handled appropriately and hopes the end result will be a more secure process on exam days.

“I hope this will lead to reform for exams in the future, for example, just having one exam [section] or having to swipe into your exam so you can’t go to two exams,” Williams said.

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