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Widespread Cheating Scandal At Barnard

Apparently, Harvard isn’t alone in its recent tradition of academic dishonesty. Over the past few weeks, the English department at Barnard has also faced a major cheating scandal. The wildly popular Major English Texts II class, in which 123 students are enrolled, is currently under review by the registrar and dean after several students reported widespread cheating across the lecture.

Students allegedly passed answers back and forth and confirmed responses on their phones during regular reading quizzes, which consisted of basic poem identifications. Without a TA to help her grade the work of such a large class, Senior Lecturer Peggy Ellsberg, who is teaching the course this spring and has been at Barnard for over 20 years, allowed her students to self-grade. Ellsberg became suspicious of cheating after the majority of the class was consistently receiving 90+ percent on their quizzes. All quizzes, many with nearly identically-marked answers, are now being held by Barnard as “evidence.”

Ellsberg was allegedly given a choice as to whether she wanted to subject her entire class to a formal academic investigation, which could potentially end in expulsion. According to students in the class, no students have yet been expelled but Ellsberg did call for witnesses and confessions during class, emphasizing that anyone who came clean would avoid expulsion but receive a zero in the course. The Barnard administration has not interfaced with the class directly, either through email or in person; thus far, all potential consequences for the cheating incident have been relayed through Ellsberg. The class will be capped at 40 students next semester and will likely not feature reading quizzes.

Grades for Major English Texts II, a notoriously easy class, were calculated solely based on a single 2-3 page paper and the weekly quizzes. In an attempt to balance the class’ grades, Ellsberg eliminated all quiz scores from the grade book and added a final exam, worth 70% of each student’s final grade.

The class will now be subject to a blue book final tomorrow at 9 am with extravagant anti-cheating measures, like splitting students into several rooms and having the exam proctored by multiple administrative members. Additionally, Barnard is bringing in “the fuzz,” as Ellsberg called them, to keep an eye on any would-be delinquents.

Ellsberg and the Barnard administration have yet to comment on this incident publicly and had not responded to our requests for comment at the time of publishing. We will update you as we learn more.

Update, 6:26 p.m.: Ellsberg informed the class yesterday that the final will be proctored by admins, possibly including Dean Hinkson and Peter Platt, the chair of the English department. One of the rooms in which the final is scheduled to be held, Held Auditorium, currently has multiple video surveillance warnings taped to its exterior, though that’s not necessarily related to the final.

Update, 10:30 pm: A statement from Hilary Link, Barnard Vice Provost and Chair of the Committee on Instruction:

The College takes all allegations of cheating seriously. In this particular situation, college procedure was followed in that the professor, in consultation with relevant committees and her department chair, discounted quizzes because of a serious concern that academic integrity may have been compromised. In accordance with college policy, the professor supplemented the course assessment with a final exam. To date, no Barnard students have been identified as having cheated.

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  • Get a Clue says:

    @Get a Clue What idiot assigns blame to a professor who expects her students act like ahem.. intelligent adults? Really.

  • Get a Clue says:

    @Get a Clue This is evidence of a greater social problem, which just happens to be playing out in universities and other spheres. It is extremely easy to place blame on the professor, but I feel that line of thinking is extremely problematic and flawed. Ellsberg choose to treat the students as adults who were trustworthy. It is ridiculous to argue that she should have been policing the students in the first place.

    What about the more important conversation that should be taking place: why students at elite institutions and other places have come to believe they are entitled to get what they want, when they want it? What about the tendency to direct blame towards others, rather than acting responsibly? It is truly unfortunate that many students will get their degrees here and move onto elite jobs without internalizing these more important lessons.

  • C.C.N.Y. 1965 GRADUATE PHYSICIST says:


    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Jesus, cruise control for cool much?

  • BeaGomez says:

    @BeaGomez “Without a TA to help her grade the work of such a large class, Senior Lecturer Peggy Ellsberg, who is teaching the course this spring and has been at Barnard for over 20 years, allowed her students to self-grade. ”

    Is she just phoning it in, waiting to retire? This is a terrible idea! She needs to be fired.

  • whosebadrap says:

    @whosebadrap What do you expect from a literature class that gives tests with “right/wrong” answers? These kids are cheating because they’re not required to think critically. In my 4 years of Lit study at BC, CC, and UCL, I never once took an exam like this. Sounds like a class for slackers who want to get out of their lit requirement.

  • BarnardStudent says:

    @BarnardStudent I took this class in Fall ’11 and was considering telling an administrator then. Ellsburg is not as naive as everyone is pretending. She explicitly left the room several times during the quizzes, everyone used to wip out their cell phones, and MAJORITY of the class graded their own quizzes and changed their answers. I remember being extraordinarily frustrated for being punished for getting a 90 on a quiz that I had actually studied for, rather than the 120 the rest of the class received through cheating. This class is a disgrace to the Barnard education, and there is no way she did not know about the cheating because she mentioned it to our class years ago, when I was a sophomore and I am graduating now.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Wait.

      Can we backtrack a little and respond to the fact that people got TWENTY bonus points on these quizzes?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Can’t we just admit that Barnyard girls will do anything to get ahead. You always see them on their knees when there is a successful hedge fun guy in the room.

    1. BarnardStudent says:

      @BarnardStudent “Hedge fun”.
      Anyone who makes this sort of comment about ANY person, let alone your CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS, deserves a nice sharp kick in the nuts.

      1. WuWu says:

        @WuWu BARNYARD (sic) baby do you have callouses or your knees or are you a bearded lady? why do I think yo are a combined fem/ethnic studies major who either had her admission paid for by daddy or is a prime example of affirmative action for which Barnyard is famous? Run along to yer basketball game now dearie…..

        1. vom says:

          @vom the fact that you exist makes my skin crawl. whether you actually believe what you write or you’re trolling, getting your jollies from others’ misery is sickening and indicative of some deep-seeded resentment, insecurity, or entitlement.

  • This is where Barnard ends says:

    @This is where Barnard ends Columbia should just let Barnard go. Then Barnard can go bankrupt and then Columbia can buy all of its facilities. That way you get rid of this type of scandals and of the great divide that the presence of Barnard creates in the undergraduate population. Finally, Barnard is simply not an Ivy League School. It is just fortunate to be across the street from one.

  • Seriously? says:

    @Seriously? Are you kidding me? SELF GRADING? Who does that?!?

    Requiring that students not cheat on exams and papers is one thing. Giving them the power to determine their own grade and expecting them to act against self-interest is quite another. Human beings are simply not made to be THAT moral. Be honest. Would you REALLY give yourself anything below a 90?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous can everyone calm down please

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I’m sorry but what does “self grading” mean? What happened specifically as self grading?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous @Anonymous:

      When I took the class last year, we would have 10 minutes to complete the quiz (passage IDs, basic questions like “name the seven sins,” etc). Then, instead of passing them to the front, we’d swap papers with the person sitting next to us, and grade the quizzes that way.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Thanks for replying. But how could anyone be sure of the correct answers? Would the professor handout sheets with the correct answers immediately after the quiz was over?

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous @Anonymous:

          once we handed in the sheets, she’d go over the questions one by one, and read the correct answers.

  • Grades says:

    @Grades Grades don’t really mean anything in the long run. Maybe that’s why the professor just didn’t really care.

    Unfortunately, some people still haven’t gotten the memo. That’s why the lid was blown off of this thing.

    1. i agree! says:

      @i agree! LIKE LIKE LIKE! so true. allow me to be that asshole to say getting into this phi beta kappa cult is like winning the special olympics. #sorrynotsorry

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous My question is why the hell is there a 123 student class with no TAs? I’ve taken classes here with less than 40 students that had multiple TAs, shouldn’t having TAs in such a big class be common practice at CU?

    1. Right? says:

      @Right? Columbia has too much money to be lacking in resources such as TA’s…

  • millie the dancing bear says:

    @millie the dancing bear trolllll in the dungeon!

    thought you ought to know…

  • Deflection doesn't absolve the crime says:

    @Deflection doesn't absolve the crime All the students that are pointing to “other cheaters” and claiming that it’s widespread so therefore this particular scandal is no big deal are missing the point. They got caught! Professor incompetance is a seperate issue, the students took advantange and now some are going to pay.

    Save all those “I know someone who” stories as they are irrelevant to this incident and only serve to deflect and obfuscate. Creating a man-made weather pattern of cheating stories only serves the cheaters. Whether there’s an overall lack of dicipline at Barnard or Columbia and calling for snitches to “hang themselves,” is another debate.

    Go read Miller’s, The Crucible and see what happens when people deflect their guilt!

  • Shame on you says:

    @Shame on you Bwog you should be ashamed of yourselves for exhibiting the worst possible form of sensationalism. I agree that it is important to hold accountable those who cheated and to hold them accountable. On the other hand, I think there are other ways to do this than by publishing an over the too story for the world to see. The NYTimes was on campus this morning trying to get more info on the story– if this gets published it’ll spoil Barnard reputation…thanks for that

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous @Shame on you: What do you think Bwog should have done with this story, then? And how is anything in this post even remotely sensationalist? If the NYT runs with this story and “spoils” Barnard’s reputation, you need to be blaming the students who cheated, not Bwog.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous BWOG is a shitrag what do you expect?

    3. Out of curiosity says:

      @Out of curiosity How did the NY Times find students who are in the class to interview? Just stop random students on Barnard’s campus and hope they would get lucky?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Professors need to take an interest in their classes. proctor exams, and grade the exams themselves.

  • Wow Guys... says:

    @Wow Guys... and this is why “Barnard University” is not a thing.

    1. uh says:

      @uh That did not make any sense.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous cheating is widespread at all colleges. Think about take home finals, do professors really believe that students will not talk to other students? This is just one case where someone came clean. If everyone ratted out their classmates there would be more cheating scandals at Barnard AND Columbia.

  • Hilary Link says:

    @Hilary Link Hear no evil, see no evil! QED everything is fine here

  • that shit cray says:

    @that shit cray hah! heisenberg was probably the snitch! I SEE U DAWGGGG~

    1. that shit cray says:

      @that shit cray whoops, meant to reply to the post at the top MY B

    2. Heisenberg says:

      @Heisenberg According to the article there were several snitches. And I was not even in the class I just know a lot of people in it

  • anon says:

    @anon As a former student of Peggy Ellsberg, I am really sad to see that she is bogged down in this crap. She cares deepy about her students and ensuring they have a firm grip on the English language.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I have to assume that we all have a “firm grip on the English language” by now.

      1. that shit cray says:

        @that shit cray boy would you be surprised…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Kudos to Steve Castellano and co. for the honor code. Didn’t think we necessarily needed one or that cheating was as bad here as at Harvard, but now it seems clear that this effort is more than symbolic. This sort of behavior, regardless of whether or not the teacher encouraged it, should not be okay. Moreover: CC, BC, SEAS, GS: I don’t care. This is an embarrassment to our community.

  • Kathy Schnapper says:

    @Kathy Schnapper What horrified me was the comments that followed the story, that the cheating was somehow the fault of the instructor and that she should be fired for allowing the cheating to occur. Guess that I am naive enough to believe that the responsibility of college instructors is to know their material and teach it well. A serious scholar assumes that those who take a class in literature do so because they are interested in the subject. Now the college lecturer has become babysitter as well. Guess that times have changed since I was an undergraduate (CCNY ’68).

    1. GSAS '14 says:

      @GSAS '14 While I’m not a Barnard student, and thus can’t know the specifics of the class very well, “Major English Texts II” is only a 3000-level course that offers a generalized study of rotating movements in English literature. Unfortunately, if one combines a vague premise like that with a large class size, the class is bound to attract students who are less interested in the subject matter and more interested in an easy grade. Professor Ellsberg has been teaching this class for 20 years — she ought to have noticed this problem before!

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous you are like so old. go home.

  • So when are we says:

    @So when are we going after the cheating in masters-level stats classes?

  • The Mandarin says:

    @The Mandarin Lol women and their lying and cheating…this is why they’ll never be president.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cheating is why so many CS classes that don’t lend themselves to exams (e.g. Advanced Programming) still have them. Go look on some of the freelancer sites.

  • that shit cray says:

    @that shit cray when I took her class, we had a TA who graded our quizzes… everyone still did well… i mean, her quizzes aren’t impossible, and there’s no need for them to be if the id’s are just meant to check that you did the readings. and plus, when the quizzes are based on the past 2-3 readings where you have to identify the title & author, no shit everyone’s gonna have similar answers if you only have so few options to pick from!

    plus, isn’t there that thing we call a “curve”– who cares if everyone does well on the quizzes, the essays will determine where they fall on the curve then. wouldn’t that also help to deter cheating on quizzes anyway?

    when your friends and classmates do well, even if they do better than you, be happy for their success! :) is running to an academic dean to accuse your class of a “cheating scandal” really that much of an ego booster?

    this alleged scandal portrays peggy ellsberg in such dim light. i think she’s so knowledgable and genuinely wants to see her students succeed. the attention that this ‘cheating scandal’ as received is so unnecessary and draws nothing but negativity and resentment. stop punishing people for doing well!

    if this university is going to “reform” any facet of education, it might as well start with that math department… a notoriously terrible department with terrible TAs (well, most) to match. I’ve had my fair share of excellent math TAs, but the majority whom I’ve encountered are just as incompetent as some of the math professors themselves. plus, can anyone confirm the math class where the average class grade was a C and students found their grade on their transcript changed a few months later by the administration to reflect a B as the class average?? real? rumor?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous “a notoriously terrible department”? “incompetent” professors?

      Care to explain?

      1. that shit cray says:

        @that shit cray my thoughts exactly for whoever wrote this article– a “notoriously easy class”? Bwog, care to explain? as for incompetent professors and TAs in the math department, would you actually like me to list each one individually on here? jokes, I think CULPA can back me on this one…

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Maybe you can just explain what you mean when you say incompetent, and also which classes you’re talking about? As I see it any department with people like

          joan birman
          johan de jong
          dorian goldfeld
          richard hamilton
          herve jacquet
          mikhail khovanov
          dusa mcduff
          andrei okounkov
          duong phong
          shou-wu zhang

          can’t be too terrible.

          1. that shit cray says:

            @that shit cray Chill bro, just an opinion. You’re entitled to yours too (sorry if you’re one of the butthurt math TAs). I mean, I also said *some* not all… Dusa’s the bomb!

          2. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous I get that, I’m just wondering if you can explain your take; just saying culpa isn’t very helpful. (I have indeed been a math TA, and I put a lot of time into doing it well.)

          3. that shit cray says:

            @that shit cray of all the math classes i’ve taken here, i’ve only had one TA who actually did more than just grade problem sets and exams– actually introducing himself to the class, holding review sessions, and making himself available outside of regularly scheduled office hours to answer questions, and quickly responding to e-mails. a TA who actually made it look like he cared that we understood what we were doing, and he’s certainly been recognized for that.

            on the other hand, i’ve come across TAs in both help rooms who ‘pretend they don’t work there’, TAs who openly shit talked the students/classes they TA for, the know-it-all TAs who created an environment that discouraged asking questions by admitting to criticizing ‘stupid questions’ after students leave, TAs who were condescending in their responses- obviously displaying an unwillingness to help because they would rather focus on using their shifts to complete their own assignments, and TAs who really just don’t give a shit but actually show it.

            don’t get me wrong, some of the TAs I’ve met have been great, and hopefully you’re one of them. unfortunately though in my experience, i’m not particularly impressed by the way some of these TAs have conducted themselves.

    2. I don't understand... says:

      @I don't understand... are you claiming that the cheating actually didn’t happen and that students reported cheating because they were jealous of their classmates’ success?

  • BC '14 says:

    @BC '14 This makes me sad

  • How Dumb.. says:

    @How Dumb.. …does one have to be to cheat in a Barnard class

  • BC 13 says:

    @BC 13 This is besides the point, but saying that there is a “widespread” cheating scandal at Barnard is somewhat misleading – it’s a class of 123 students, and there are 2400 students at Barnard. Even if it was a class of all Barnard students (which I am going to guess that it is not, because many classes at Barnard are mixed BC/CU because of the academic exchange), that would still only be .05% of the Barnard population.

    This is obviously ignoring any other possible cheating that could be occurring simultaneously but are not published on the Internet.

    1. BC 13 says:

      @BC 13 Sorry, *is not published

      Finals are making me tired…

    2. ... says:

      @... I think you mean 5%

      1. anon says:

        @anon Fucken barnard cant even do math. Is stat not part of the 9 ways of finding a husband at columbia?

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous I think castration might suit you.

        2. B.C. '14 says:

          @B.C. '14 Come on, J. This isn’t “fucken” worth it.

        3. Seems like old times says:

          @Seems like old times @anon: Sounds like two things haven’t changed since I studied at Columbia in the early ’80s: cheating, and the fiction that women go to Barnard to husband-hunt. On the second issue, the fact that more women are earning degrees than men these days suggests that it might be men going to Columbia to wife-shop. Re. cheating, I knew and knew of many Columbia students who recycled each other’s papers in courses they needed to graduate, but otherwise did not value. They went on to major medical schools and other graduate programs. One of them was my boyfriend (who I didn’t marry, BTW). It was easier to get away with such primitive forms of cheating in the pre-Internet (OK, pre-computer, also) world. The idea of Barnard / Columbia students now texting each other answers in the back of a classroom blows my mind. I personally knew of no cheating at Barnard (perhaps because I spent most of my time across the street). I also knew of no honor code, though, till the one I followed when I transferred to Haverford.

          It seems to be in the nature of most humans to forgive themselves almost anything if they think they’re doing it for a good reason–e.g. what does it matter if I grade my friend’s quiz and engineer an “A” for her? She’ll make a great lawyer whether she can tell Shelley from Byron or not. What does it matter if I write my own paper on (fill in the liberal arts topic) when I’m going to medical school? But, honestly, if you cannot answer that “What does it matter…?” question, why even go to a place like Barnard / Columbia? If you don’t value the product they offer (namely, the person you could become), what are you doing there?

          Finally, the Ivy League, Seven Sisters, Potted Ivies, whatever you want to call them, don’t have the cachet they once did, thanks in large part to the misdeeds (think 2008 crash) of many high-profile grads. People think of them as factories of the unfeeling 1%. Those of us who actually attend them know that, while the 1%ers and their pretenders walk among us, most of us are not those people. Which brings me back to cheating. If you want your degree from a prestigious institution to mean something, participating in what turns into a cheating scandal is not in your best interest. And, instead of viewing students who report cheating as “snitches” (as several writers above have done), a college community should be cooperating to stop cheating before it warrants national attention.

      2. Hey says:

        @Hey Remembering to multiply times 100 is hard.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Speaking for Barnard math majors (we do exist), this person does not represent the entire Barnard population.

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous At least we know you aren’t cheating at math!

  • Pissy BC English major says:

    @Pissy BC English major People who cheat in Ellsberg’s class deserve to have the book thrown at them, and hard.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Quizzes in that class WERE NOT self-graded. I took it in the Fall semester– we passed it to somebody in the seat next to us/row in front of us and they graded it.
    As for the ” nearly identically-marked answers”, when I took the class, most of the answers were one word answers! (write the name of the work/author, for example.) Of course they would be identical.

  • Anonymous says:


  • T Qin says:

    @T Qin Yay!!!!

  • The real cheating at Columbia... says:

    @The real cheating at Columbia... Happens in the stats courses. Masters students…grrrrr

    1. CC '13 says:

      @CC '13 Yeah lol I once saw my neighbor brazenly take out his iPhone to look something up during my stat final…and we had 4 pages, double-sided, of notes we were allowed to bring in. I mean, what?

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous not only stat, any big masters programs. can’t compete with 100s on all homeworks and early access to exam by having someone take it early and sharing…

  • dirty mike says:

    @dirty mike shame on you Barnard wenches. you cheaters should be prosecuted to fullest extent of Columbia law and be expelled.

    1. Wenches? says:

      @Wenches? Really though? Is this Game of Thrones?

      1. King Joffrey, rightful ruler of Westeros says:

        @King Joffrey, rightful ruler of Westeros Tell me, alleged Peggy Ellsberg; if you had to choose between your hands or your tongue, which would you pick?

        1. King Joffrey, rightful ruler of Westeros says:

          @King Joffrey, rightful ruler of Westeros ugh I botched the shit out of the grammar in that comment…apologies. reading week.

          also maybe should have named Deborah Spar as the rightful ruler of Westeros…whatever

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous self graded quizzes…no big deal compared to widespraed cheating in other departments/masters programs

  • query says:

    @query It might be a bit of an old-fashioned question to ask in this day and age, but I was just wondering what the sources for this story were.

    1. Alexandra says:

      @Alexandra Our sources are a few people in Ellsberg’s class who, understandably, wanted to remain anonymous.

  • anon says:

    @anon For all the talk you hear about Barnard being a small liberal arts school that fosters education for the sake of itself, this is a pretty big slap in the face

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous why don’t that catch everyone in the columbia econ department for cheating on every single exam they’ve taken?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous wait, really?

    2. wait says:

      @wait Everyone cheats on Econ exams? Is that why I’m always so fucked by the curve? DAMN YOU, COLUMBIA!

    3. private double gpa says:

      @private double gpa because cheating is an essential skill that need to be mastered before entering the ‘real business world’?

    4. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Business too. My accounting class this semester was full of groups of people who openly copied homeworks and group projects from each other and had access to last year’s coursework. Surprise, surprise. Both midterms had bimodal distributions, and everyone without an inside advantage got royally fucked by the curve.

    5. sunil gulati says:

      @sunil gulati (it’s because being an econ major is just practice for Wall St)

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i think that honor codes are good or bad

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Ummmm “self-grading”? So that’s what they do at Barnard?!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous don’t play the fool, idiot. it’s unbecoming.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The only way to stop cheating is expulsion

  • before you get sexist says:

    @before you get sexist remember this class has a shit ton of columbia dudes in it too

    1. Enough playing the sex card says:

      @Enough playing the sex card This has nothing to do with being a female, but everything to do with the fact that this occured at an undergraduate college affiliated with Columbia University. That is literally not relevant at all to this scandal–cheating and sexism do not overlap–so I wonder why you mention sexism at all? Barnard students CAN do wrong, and it is NOT sexist to say so.

      1. Anonymous says:


        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Sorry for the down vote. I totally agree : girls poop!? #Feminists.

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I don’t think it’s fair to say that poster was “playing the sex card” – it was preemptive, as the word “before” would suggest. Articles involving Barnard & drama within the student body tend to attract a lot of sexist remarks, and while you and I both know that the cheating has nothing to do with the students’ sex/gender, it’s something that’s pretty likely to come up in the article’s comment threads.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Ditto. Sad, isn’t it?

  • Fire the Faculty says:

    @Fire the Faculty What idiot lets students grade their peers’ or their own quizzes? Seems to be fault of faculty and administration: the former for being too lazy to grade the quizzes and the latter for not giving this professor TAs to assist in the grading.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous That’s the purported intention of an honor code: “that everyone is honorable”

      1. Anon says:

        @Anon This clearly shows that no matter what is “signed,” many students will do whatever the fuck they want to get a better grade. Honor code is useless. Does absolutely nothing.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous The teacher was dumb here. Inviting people to cheat basically. While stuff like this works at princeton, they have a long history of peers holding each other accountable that is much stronger than either cu or bc’s honor code. The honor code in general deincentivizes cheating. It doesn’t assume all people are honorable or expect to wipe out cheating altogether.

        2. CC'14 says:

          @CC'14 haha, this comment is absurd. It seems very clear that students did not sign any honor code on these quizzes, so it’s proof of nothing. In fact, the expectation to cheat was the very problem with this class.

    2. anon says:

      @anon The teacher should be expelled for allowing self-grading. How could it never occur to her that people will cheat on something like that? As far as im concerned everyone should be let off free because you would have to be stupid not to cheat in a class like that. We can all pretend we live in a perfect honor world but really with a flaw that easy to exploit no one is going to think about honor when everyone is doing it. It seems to me that this professor should have to take a class on how to conduct your classroom. Just like in the real world if you create a system that requires no effort to exploit you will be burned just look at pirating music, movies and tv for a world wide example of this.

      1. Enough victim blaming says:

        @Enough victim blaming Seriously. It shouldn’t be on the teacher to tell people not to cheat, it should be on the women of Barnard College of Columbia University to act like Ivy League students and be honorable about their quizzes. Cheating on a weekly reading quiz?? Are you kidding me?! I hope the students that did this get caught and expelled.

        1. I took a game theory class once =] says:

          @I took a game theory class once =] The real issue, i believe, is how could a teacher who has received a PHD really believe that a self-graded test would never be cheated on? Honestly, it is true that it falls on the students heads when they cheat, but lets look at the situation. If one student is cheating, his/her friend will see that it is possible and will also cheat since they do not want to be beat out by the cheater. This will lead to a classic prisoner’s dilemma situation where everyone will feel they need to cheat because their classmates are and all students want to maximize their grade. Cheating in this situation is the nash equilibrium strategy. Therefore, cheating is the only reasonable move for each student whose motivation is a high GPA (which we can assume is most students).

          1. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous i’m glad you had gulati for a semester, but that’s not quite a prisoner’s dilemma and students still have the option of, like, studying to get the same grade as their peers.

          2. I took a game theory class once =] says:

            @I took a game theory class once =] @Anonymous (since there was no reply button to you)

            Well if you want to get technical, studying is not bringing the same utility as cheating. Studying wastes tons of time and as the article says everyone was getting over a 90 on the quizzes when they were cheating. Therefore, studying can not possibly have much of an impact on quiz score compared to cheating, but wastes a great deal more time. Therefore, the utility payoff of cheating is much higher since time is kind of important to people.

            Maybe you should take the Game Theory like me and not principles =] !

          3. nice smiley says:

            @nice smiley i think the last and only time i used the =] smiley was 6th grade

          4. This is an English II seminar says:

            @This is an English II seminar not a high stress class, a career maker or breaker, etc. Even if this was a high stress class, cheating is never acceptable, even if other people are doing it. Shame on the people that cheated, and I hope they are kicked out.

        2. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous “it should be on the women of Barnard College of Columbia University to act like Ivy League students and be honorable about their quizzes. ” errrr, Barnard “women” are NOT Ivy League Students. So STFU

          1. pleaseeeeeee says:

            @pleaseeeeeee Not this bullshit again.


          2. millie the dancing bear says:

            @millie the dancing bear roflmao

        3. The Columbian says:

          @The Columbian Barnard is not an Ivy League college, nor is it an official college of an Ivy League university. Barnard students are not Ivy League students. Not trying to be mean, but let’s stay true to the facts.

          1. Cole says:

            @Cole Barnard is one of the four undergraduate colleges of Columbia university. It may have its own governing board, but it is considered one of our four undergraduate colleges.

            Stop acting like something like this wouldn’t happen at Columbia, because in this situation I’m sure it would. Columbia students would be just as guilty as these students (from both Columbia and Barnard) are.

          2. Okay, listen. says:

            @Okay, listen. Barnard College is NOT an undergraduate institution of Columbia. Seriously. It’s not. Teacher’s College, Barnard, JTS, and UTS are all AFFILIATES of Columbia University. This is why Columbia affiliates have separate contracts with Google, why Barnard has a separate admissions board, etc. etc. Now, I love me some Barnard, and perhaps this distinction doesn’t matter, but I’m just telling you how it is. Obviously Barnard is an excellent institution, but it is not a school of Columbia.

          3. CC'14 says:

            @CC'14 Cole, where does it say that Barnard is an “official undergraduate college of Columbia University”? I’ve looked everywhere, and I honestly have only read that CC, SEAS, GS are the THREE official undergraduate college of Columbia and that Barnard is an affiliated liberal arts college for women. I’ve asked administrators and advisors in the past, and they’ve all told me that, officially, there are only three undergraduate colleges at Columbia.

            Again, I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m very confused as to where you’re getting this information from.

          4. Cole says:

            @Cole Literally in the admissions videos that they show to incoming freshmen at NSOP and Days on Campus, on the Columbia website Barnard is listed as an official school of Columbia University, the only difference being that Barnard is listed as an “affiliate.”

            Quite frankly, it’s shameful that you are all so busy worrying about whether or not Barnard is “one of us,” instead of focusing on building community with these women who are sitting in your classes, eating in your dining halls, etc. Grow up. Their degrees are signed by both presidents, so complain all you want.

            And really, enjoy the crow you are all eating now that the news has surfaced that Columbia students, not Barnard students, were the ones mainly involved in the cheating scandal.

          5. The Columbian says:

            @The Columbian You just claimed Barnard is an OFFICIAL school of Columbia and then confirmed it is an AFFILIATE in the exact same sentence. You’ve contradicted yourself. If a school is affiliated with Columbia, it cannot be an “official” school of Columbia, like JTS and UTS. Please provide links if you possess any evidence suggesting otherwise.

            I’m really not sure why you’re being so defensive. Although I highly doubt you actually go to Columbia, I would like to remind you that I never spoke of Barnard in a negative manner; I simply stated the facts as shown in Columbia’s website and affirmed by Columbia’s administrators and advisors.

          6. Cole Hickman/Rhea Sen says:

            @Cole Hickman/Rhea Sen UGH U R RITE :(((

            I DONT GO HERE YOU GOT ME!!!!!!!

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Are you implying that you should cheat when given the opportunity? I never cheated in College or High School. I like to think that I’m normal.

      1. Francesca Dow says:

        @Francesca Dow My Barnard diploma has Columbia Universitas Columbiae (sp)at the top, Barnardi is written in much smaller letter much farther down on the scroll– you have to look for it – you’d never see it unless you read the fine print — you can’t miss the ColumbiaBarnard is the undergraduate womens college of Columbia University. The college, which took women the year after I graduated, was men only, and there was cross registration, except for certain requirements in your field of concentration, and even then there was flexibilty and choice, as long as you completed your distribution requirements. The other two undergraduate schools were GS and the School of Engineering. Maybe things have changed now that the college is co-ed.

  • Arsene Wenger says:

    @Arsene Wenger *Rubs hands with glee*

  • Barnard Joke Jerry says:

    @Barnard Joke Jerry I whole heartedly approve of women helping each other out…and by helping I mean sex. #quitstheinternetforever

    1. CC '15 says:

      @CC '15 why the fuck does this comment have any likes. it’s not funny. jesus christ. can we stop with the barnard jokes.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Well this speaks volumes about implementing an honor code…

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous this is literally the dumbest fucking argument, and yet people make it ALL THE TIME. laws that forbid murder are violated everyday; does that mean we should get rid of them? should we just get rid of laws altogether? no, bitch.

      1. CU GOP says:

        @CU GOP Exactly! When demeaning measures don’t work, we have to make them harsher.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous inb4 anti-Barnard shitstorm

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous lol barnard

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Wait I don’t get it? Barnard has an honor code doesn’t that stop them from cheating?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous They also share a community in a larger school where cheating is widespread and academic integrity was never discussed till two years ago. A larger community of peers discussing the importance of integrity even when teachers invite cheating through their negligence is exactly what the founders of the honor code eventually hope to change.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Gave this a thumbs up cause it made me laugh, but let’s be real: this is further evidence that our university needs to get it’s shit together. I’m pissed that students think this is ok, but I emphasize with the cultural cheating and find this further evidence of the need for the university as a whole to start taking academic integrity seriously. An honor code is a great first step in allowing these conversations.

        1. Same guy says:

          @Same guy Sorry. This was meant to be a reply to the OP. I agree with the guy I accidently replied to.

    2. Maybe I'm too Realistic? says:

      @Maybe I'm too Realistic? What is with all of these people talking about integrity? If you have a shit system set up in place, then expect people to take advantage of it. How naive can you be to allow self-grading? If people can figure out a way to get an edge without getting caught then they’ll do it. You can talk about honor code and expectations and all sorts of fluff like that, but you have to live in the real world instead of this fairyland bullshit.

  • anon says:

    @anon The great finals’ shit storm is here. Block bwog if you want to get work done, you have been warned!

    1. Heisenberg says:

      @Heisenberg From someone who knew about the widespread cheating in the class before this story broke (and who did not take the class but has many friends in it), I want to clear a few things up. First, Peggy Ellsberg claims that she “became suspicious of cheating after the majority of the class was consistently receiving 90+ percent on their quizzes.” This is a blatant lie; she’s been teaching the course for 20 years and just has never really cared about the cheating (and no one is that naïve for 20 years). Instead, this issue only came up because of “several students reported widespread cheating across the lecture.” So yes, snitches and not Ellsberg brought this issue to relevancy. Second, people are going to question what “widespread” cheating means in a class of 123 people and underestimate the amount of cheating. Do not underestimate it, this class was known as a class you could easily cheat in to get an easy A and I personally know several people who recommended underclassmen the class because it is so easy to cheat in as well as several people who took it just to cheat. So many people in this class joined just to cheat and many more found out quite early on that they would be at a huge disadvantage by not cheating. The only reason the class is so popular, which is perhaps why Ellsberg ignored the problem, is because of its ease due to cheating. I would be surprised if less than 100 of the 123 students in the class were cheating. Draw your own conclusions about whether Ellsberg deserves to be fired for being so naïve, the need for an honor code, or whether it is fair for the few honest people that they changed the entire curriculum and added a final weighted at 70%, but this shit should not be swept under the rug.

      1. Heisenberg says:

        @Heisenberg Also for people who do not comprehend how big a cheating scandal this is, lets say 100 people in the class cheated, 60 of which were from barnard. That means on average 15 people per year from Barnard were cheating in the class (15 freshmen, 15 sophomores, etc). If this ratio holds for every semester the class was taught (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t) that means each graduating class of barnard has about 120/600 people who cheated in the same class. This is a major scandal, don’t sweep it under the rug.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous I took the class last semester, am a stickler for the rules and managed as a [barnard] science major to get an A with no issues and without cheating even though apparently that’s what you have to do to succeed?!!!

      2. that shit cray says:

        @that shit cray whoops, am I the only one who thumbs upped this for the first part about pointing out the inaccurate reporting / snitches? I disagree with the second part, however– you don’t know why people take the classes they choose to and it’s unfair to assume that people took her class because it was “easy to cheat”

        maybe they took it just out of genuine interest? or maybe they like the professor because she’s an interesting lecturer? maybe they needed a 3 point class to graduate and it was the best one that fit into their schedule? maybe they actually needed it to fulfill a requirement? don’t be so quick to discredit those around you :)

      3. BarnardStudent says:

        @BarnardStudent Yes, the cheating was widespread, but you are way off the mark for so aggressively blaming the professor. Ask any professor, not just Professor Ellsberg (though I would LOVE to see you share your opinion with her), and you’ll undoubtedly find that he or she feels personally violated by the idea of anyone cheating, so high are their expectations for and opinions of us as students. Professor Ellsberg most likely made the class so easy so that people would feel no need to cheat–I’ve taken Major English Texts and, if you did half the readings or even did nothing but paid close enough attention in lectures, you could pass without an issue. In short, Heisenberg, you are an exceptional jackass, and if you take a course specifically to cheat, you don’t even deserve to post on BWOG, let alone attend any of the colleges at this university.

        1. Heisenberg says:

          @Heisenberg I did not take the class, I said I know people who took it. And perhaps you are right and that she is naive about what a lot of college students will do if given the opportunity, I hope allowing kids to grade their own tests was due to naivety and not something more sinister. She sounds like a good teacher btw, just bad at assessing grades.
          Also, to first comment, I am sure some people took it with good intentions. However, from what I have heard most of the class either came in with the intention of cheating, or like PED’s soon saw they’d be at a strong disadvantage without cheating and decided to cheat.

      4. madfoot says:

        @madfoot don’t you mean “fewer than 100 of the 123 students?”

        sorry, I’m just an English major who didn’t cheat.

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