Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cheating Scandal Erupts at Syracuse Following Biden's Graduation Speech

Following Vice-President Joe Biden's commencement address at Syracuse University on Sunday, a cheating scandal has erupted at the law school -- bringing to mind Biden's plagiarism as a Syracuse 1L thirty-four years ago.

According to the New York Times, the Syracuse faculty voted to give Biden an "F" grade after he ''used five pages from a published law review article [Comment, Tortious Act as a Basis for Jurisdiction in products Liability Cases, 33 Fordham L. Rev. 671 (1965)] without quotation or attribution'' in his 15-page paper for his legal research and writing course.  Biden was permitted to re-take the course the following year, and he "received a grade of 80 in the course, which, he joked today, prevented him from falling even further in his class rank. Mr. Biden, who graduated from the law school in 1968, was 76th in a class of 85."  Here is a video clip of the episode:

Today's Syracuse Post-Standard reports on a current cheating scandal involving Syracuse 1Ls:

Syracuse University Law School has limited restroom breaks for first-year students during final exams and made other security changes to crack down on cheating.

Students can now use the restroom only once during an exam, which can last four hours, because some are suspected of using cell phones or looking at papers in the bathrooms. Students with medical reasons to use the restroom more often than once per exam must provide medical documentation to a dean.

"During this exam period, we have received a significant number of reports from (first-year) students alleging academic dishonesty," read an e-mail sent by law school deans to first-year students. The e-mail was obtained by The Post-Standard late Sunday night. ...

The e-mail said students had also been accused of:

  • Writing outlines and notes into exam supplements
  • Copying answers during the exams
  • Changing answers after the exams by logging into the exam software program

(Hat Tip: Law School Headlines.)

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Syracuse University, the University itself and the Law School, has been going out of its way to wrap itself up in Vice President Biden since last fall.

There have been articles in the general alumni magazine, the law school alumni magazine (at least twice), plus the aforementioned commencement address.

My wife, who loves to poke fun at the ever declining quality of my law school Alma Mater, can't believe that SU is pushing so hard for recognition of the fact that one of its worst-ever (barely) graduates lucked into a successful national ticket.

I'm beginning to think she is right to poke fun at SU, its lack of quality, and its apparent lack of quality control.

(Aside: While I was at SU Law (mid 90's) I knew a student who was caught red-handed in a cheating/plagiarism scandal worse than the facts outlined above. He was allowed to continue matriculating, graduated, and went on to become a prosecutor out west. Acceptance of cheaters and cheating at SU Law is by no means a one time occurrence.)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2009 6:15:23 AM

Will someone tell me how this absolute fool became our Vice President?

I see it as a huge indictment of our system that a lying mediocrity like this can rise so far. What is to become of us?

Posted by: fustian | May 13, 2009 4:46:56 AM