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Syracuse Law School curbs bathroom breaks to flush out cheaters

SU curbs bathroom breaks to flush out cheaters on tests
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
By Glenn Coin
Staff writer

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.

Tomas Gonzalez, senior assistant dean for student life and a signer of the e-mail, declined to say how many complaints had been received or what students were suspected of doing. "We don't talk about internal communications," Gonzalez said.

First-year student Ryan Cole said he had heard complaints of students going into the bathrooms during exams to text on their cell phones. He said he hadn't seen any cheating himself.

"You just focus on your exams," said Cole, of Liverpool.

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. Exams are taken on computers.

Students can be expelled for cheating. Gonzalez declined to say if any students had been disciplined.

In addition to limiting bathroom breaks, the law school is also:

Hiring more proctors to supervise exams;

Inspecting bathrooms before and during exams;

Reviewing computer logs to see if students have altered their answers after the exams.