Every semester law schools administer final exams in each course, commonly these exams consist of 100% of the students grades. Generally, Professors take a long time to create these exams as they are rigorous and cover material from the entire semester. However, Professor Robin Alexander of UDC Law School administered an exam to her first year students that was entirely photocopied from a professional study guide that students had utilized to study for the course. As a result her students received very positive grades; in fact 70% of the students received an A or better.
A few weeks after the final exams were graded Professor Alexander sent a memo (attached and really poorly written) to the class expressing allegations of cheating. She claims that a student must have broken into her office and stolen her answer sheet and distributed the answer sheet, since the final exam grades were so high. Furthermore, she adds that she has no evidence of these implications and that these allegations were initiated by rumors and a hunch. As a result, the Professor nullified the final exam grades leaving students with a tailored subjective final grade consisting of participation and a random group assignment created previously as a drafting practice activity. The grade distribution consisted of most students receiving Cs and Ds in the course and the third year law students that took her course, now face the threat of having their degrees taken away.
UDC Law students have taken a stand including visiting every dean, faculty and member of UDC Law in efforts to fix this injustice. Additionally, the Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean Richardson, has stated that she has no evidence of cheating but the students grades shall stand as they are, even if it means students are losing their law degrees, internships, scholarships, and job offers. Furthermore, Dean Richardson is protecting a Professorís job by making the students look bad, in fact she has encouraged a witch hunt (the Professor wrote in her memo too) by asking students to disclose who the wrongdoers are and settle this matter for the administration. Dean Richardson has deliberately ignored all remedies and appeals available by UDCís policy handbook, in which the students have requested and she has instructed Professors and other Deans to disassociate themselves with this situation. Furthermore, conveniently, UDCs board of academic standards is unable to meet to investigate the situation.
Interestingly enough, Professor Alexander use to serve as General Counsel for UDC until she was part of an OIG investigation for illegal contracting practices. Upon the close of their investigation, the University was instructed to either fire her or relegate her to a different position. Therefore, the University reassigned her as the Professor of Contracts and Professional Responsibility --No, I am not kidding.
Currently, numerous UDC Students are in the process of filing a law suit against UDC Law School. The Law School has violated their due process rights by sanctioning the students without a hearing and violating their self imposed policies concerning these types of issues. Furthermore, UDC Law students have filed a complaint with the ABA board that oversees the accreditation of UDC. UDCís accreditation has been threatened numerous times in the past, law suits and situations such as this one are not uncommon with UDC Law.
Unfortunately, Dean Richardson has told students that bringing this situation to the attention of the media or getting involved legally would result in negative treatment from the school and its administration. In fact the Dean has been quoted as telling students that ďlife just isnít fairĒ.
Contacts concerning this situation:
Dean Anna Maria Steward (student affairs)
Telephone: (202) 274-7322
Dean Ann B. Richardson
Department: Bldg. 38 Rm. 212
Title: Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Phone: (202) 274-7345
Professor Robin Alexander
Telephone: (202) 274-7318
UDC Contracts II First Year Studentsudcdcsl2012@googlegroups.com
University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Building 38, 2nd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20008
To: The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
Class of 2012 Day Students and
Class of 2013 Evening Students
From: Professor Robin C. Alexander
Re: Contracts II Final Exam-taking Honor Code Violations
Date: May 13, 2010
By now you must be aware that I have circumstantial and physical evidence of cheating on the Contracts II final exam. Indications are that it may have been widespread and infects both the day and evening classes. Unfortunately, I have no solid evidence of the identity of the wrongdoers.
A number of persons have complained that they learned after-the-fact that, thanks to the TAís generously detailed description of the topics of each exam question, someone was able to identify the questions I had drawn unadvisedly from a single published bar prep resource and actually put the questions in order with their answers. It is not beyond ken that someone acquired a copy of my Answer Key prior to the exam. Either method of access and preparation for the exam is cheating, not research, and is a violation of the Honor Code to which each of you was required to sign an oath of adherence during your orientation.
However, no one has been able or willing to identify either the person or persons disseminating the answers before the exam or those who accepted them.
I refer you to the following selected excerpts from Volume II of your Student Handbook for Academic Year 2009-2010:
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of law operates under an Honor System. The legal profession is responsible for enforcing its own standards of conduct, and the School of law operates accordingly. Law students are preparing for entry into a profession that requires ethical conduct and integrity of its members. In order for graduates to enter the profession, the school must certify that they are of good moral character. Accordingly, students at the School of Law are expected to abide by the Honor System in all their relationships as members of the law school community. Students are also expected to prevent violations of the Honor System, and to ensure its effective functioning.
Students must conduct themselves lawfully and with integrity in all aspects of the School of lawís community. They must observe the norms of fairness and honesty in their personal conduct and in their dealings with others. They must not engage in conduct that is illegal or contrary to the general norms of conduct in a professional institution.
Student Handbook, Vol. !!, page 1.
* * *
1. Academic Norms and Standards, Subparagraph (b) Honesty in taking examinations provides that:
Students may not cheat on examinations, or get advance knowledge of examination questions by means not authorized by the teacher. Students also may not assist other students in cheating on an examination.
Student Handbook, Vol. II, page 3 (emphasis added).
Under 4. (b), Procedure for reporting a complaint of a violation, there is the further admonition:
It is a violation of the Honor System to fail to report academic, professional or statutory malfeasance. Complaints by faculty members, students or staff of a violation of the Honor System must be made to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Dean Richardson advises me that no one has reported the misconduct to her. Consequently, every one of you who knows anything about the cheating is in violation of the Honor Code, whether or not you participated in the dishonest conduct.
Consequently, I am nullifying the results of your written examination. Your grades for Contracts II will consist of your participation grade, your midterm grade and your grade on the collaborative writing exercise, which will stand for 100% of the final exam. I am keeping my promise to not let the midterm grade hurt you. I expect this resolution of the problem will hurt some of the innocent as well as deprive the miscreants of their attempted gains, but, without sufficient evidence to identify the wrongdoers, I cannot think of a more fair way of addressing the problem.
One of the things I love about teaching is the opportunity to learn from my students. This lesson has been a bitter one, but a lesson nonetheless. Rest assured that I will henceforth put more energy, thought, time and creativity into fashioning exams and I will guard the Answer Keys much more carefully. I have also withdrawn my previous exams from the library reserve. Questions from those exams will not be reused.
But thatís not the end of it. The misdeeds discussed above were immeasurably compounded the week after the exam when someone posted on your class facebook page a threat of physical bodily harm to anyone who might consider coming forward: "Snitches get stitches." The newest name for that is "cyberbullying." It is a crime. Unless each of you is willing to live your law school career under the intimidation of your own classmates, you need to stand up to it now. Donít let it taint your class or tarnish the reputation of your school. Only you can stop it: all of you and each of you.
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