College students caught by Vegas-style security

At the University of Central Florida, which prides itself on high-tech security systems in testing labs, about a third those taking a business midterm are caught cheating on the exam.

Please pick up your stones, ready to cast them.

As you do, please hone in on the appropriate targets before you fling your pitches. And please don't step over the white line on the pitcher's mound. There will be sanctions.

For this is the story of the University of Central Florida, a college that is justly proud of the high-tech, Vegas-style, security measures it takes when its students are tested. And this is the story of, according to ABC News, a college that has been struck numb by those nefarious operatives known as cheating students.

You will have to take your whole allotment of sick leave when I tell you that one-third of a class of 600 UCF students are said to have cheated on their midterms. You will, perhaps, decide never to return to work when I tell you that these students were about to graduate from the school of business.

It is not entirely clear how they managed to evade security. Other than the fact that Professor Richard Quinn noticed, after the test was administered last Friday, that far too many students appeared to have exceeded the boundaries of normal performance.

Oh, and before Quinn had time to decide whether the rodent he smelled did, indeed, have a long tail and enjoyed scurrying about in cellars and horror movies, he received a list of the answers in his bin when he returned to work on Monday. Yes, someone had evidently passed on the answers before the test had begun.

Quinn says he has worked out who the cheaters actually are and decided to address the whole class (excerpts of his speech are contained in the ABC News video I have embedded).

In his speech, the professor said he was both "physically ill" and "completely disillusioned." He explained that everyone would have to take the test again--with the tiny wrinkle that now it would be a written test. You know, on old-style paper. For those who didn't cheat, the highest score on the two tests will count. It will be the reverse for the cheaters.

He also said that if the cheaters confessed by midnight Wednesday, they would have to take an ethics class, after which they would still qualify for graduation.

The professor says he has a digital imprint of everyone who cheated. So you might imagine that every last cheating hound will fess up before they have to get a job crushing Fess Parker's grapes.

However, some perspective was offered by a student called Konstantin Ravvin. He seemed rather surprised that the college would think its high-tech security systems really were good enough for Alec Baldwin to not get mad in "The Cooler."

Ravvin told ABC News: "This is college. Everyone cheats. Everyone cheats in life in general. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in this testing lab who hasn't cheated on an exam. They're making a witch hunt out of absolutely nothing, as if they want to teach us some kind of moral lesson."

Some who have posted comments to various news sites suggest that perhaps the questions came from a practice test bank. There is no evidence of this, just as it is still unclear whether the answers were distributed digitally or by some more ancient means.

Some might wonder why only 200 students got the answers. Were they part of some secret masonry? Were they all in the rowing club? And what were the other 400 doing? Sleeping on the job? Others might pause to think that if they had got all the answers in advance, they would still have written down a few wrong answers just to avoid immediate suspicion.

You now have your stones in your hands. Your palms are dry. You may begin throwing in precisely two minutes.

After you do, however, there is an essay question: "Cheating in business is both natural and prevalent. Discuss." You have three hours to answer that one.

 

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