Assistant Professor of Business David Berkovitz says he does not want to financially punish the unidentified students, but simply wants to uncover the extent of the cheating.
A business professor at Chapman University in Southern California has filed a lawsuit against five of his own students.
According to CNN, Assistant Professor of Business David Berkovitz claims that the students violated copyright laws by posting his exam questions on an internet website.
Marc Hankin, an attorney for Berkovitz, told CNN that the students all took their midterm and final exams remotely, due to coronavirus-related attendance restrictions.
After taking their exams, the defendants allegedly posted elements of the tests on Course Hero, a crowdsourced website that maintains databases of course-specific study materials.
Students can also pay Course Hero a $9.95 per month subscription fee, which allows them go post questions that can be answered “in as few as few minutes.”
While Berkovitz has yet to identify the students who leaked exam information online, he is concerned that they could have asked course-specific questions when exams were being conducted—meaning that the students who engaged with Course Hero could have been actively cheating and sharing Course Hero “answers” amongst themselves.
Berkovitz says that the students’ decision to cheat could have hurt their classmates: since business courses at Chapman are graded on a curve, the “students may have inflated their grades, penalizing other students who did not cheat.”
Chapman University spokesperson Cerise Venezuela Metzger told CNN that, while the school itself is not involved in the lawsuit, any posting of exam questions to an unauthorized website would likely constitute a violation of the institution’s academic integrity policies.
“Consistent with our policies,” Metzger said, “we would encourage the professor to report the incident and students involved to the Academic Integrity Committee for Adjudication.”
Metzger said that Chapman’s policy does allow professors like Berkovitz to copyright their works, with some exceptions.
“Professors are free to pursue the removal of their copyright-protected content from websites such as Course Hero, however, we encourage faculty to use internal processes to work with student concerns,” she added.
Harkin, says CNN, said that the professor, who is also a lawyer, is not trying to financially punish the students—he simply wants to stop the alleged cheating.
“He wants to help the students that didn’t cheat,” Harkin said. “He doesn’t know how much harm has been done, if any.”
Once the students are identified, Berkovitz said he will turn over their names to Chapman University for disciplinary proceedings.
“If a question was posed during exam time, and a student received answers, it would be a clear indication of cheating,” Hankin said.