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Columbia Scandal Fails to Yield Scapegoat

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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HARD KNOCKS Columbia j-school There may be a Jayson Blair or two in Columbia j-school's class of '07, but it sounds like there are a few Byron Calames as well. A student who attended Friday's special session of "Critical Issues in Journalism" says there's widespread disappointment over the school's tepid response to allegations of cheating on an ethics course's final exam (first reported Thursday by RadarOnline.com). Rather than identify specific culprits, vice dean David Klatell opted to simply assign a new essay question about plagiarism in the newsroom (meta!), which didn't satisfy those who worried the episode would damage the value of a Columbia degree by allowing a cloud of suspicion to linger over the entire class.

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"Most of us were outraged that the administration hadn't forced their source to name names," says the student. "It sounded like they had promised anonymity to the student or students who had alleged cheating, and couldn't go back on their word."

Banned from the actual session, a gaggle of reporters hovered outside the lecture hall doors, waiting to pounce on the exiting students. Incidentally, a hasty (and since corrected) report claiming students had been forbidden to speak to the media about the scandal was not only inaccurate, but the exact opposite of the case, says the source: "Dean Klatell said he wouldn't prevent anyone from blogging, writing, or otherwise getting bylines of the story."

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