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Sunday, June 13, 2021

University of Florida students caught cheating on computer science projects

Eighty-one students sat silently in the Florida Gym on Monday night as their professor presented evidence of 97 students cheating in his computer course.

Manuel Bermudez, an associate professor in the College of Engineering’s department of computer and information science and engineering, said there were 242 instances of cheating on the first exam of his CGS2531 class.

Students were required to turn in six projects online from Feb. 21 to Feb. 22 as their exam. An instructor and a teaching assistant caught the issue.

Bermudez said project files turned in for the exam contained hidden markers that helped identify documents used in old exams. If markers from one or more documents appeared on more than one student’s file, that is proof of cheating.

“The evidence is 100 percent irrefutable,” he said.

In an email sent Friday, Bermudez gave suspected students their options: Students could accept responsibility, accept responsibility but challenge the penalty, deny responsibility or do nothing.

Students who accept responsibility will receive zeroes on the exam, suffer 5 percent grade deductions and will not be able to drop the class.

The highest possible grade students can receive if they accept responsibility is 75 percent.

If students do not accept responsibility, they will be referred to the Dean of Students and the Student Conduct Committee.

Computer science and engineering students Nuri Yeralan, 28, and Jason Chi, 29, compiled the data. Yeralan teaches 250 students in his class.

“I took it a little personal,” he said. “I even begged my students not to cheat. It kind of sucks.”

Yeralan said he warned students one week before the exam about the project markers through in-class announcements and on the course website.

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Julie Rothe, an 18-year-old finance and information systems freshman, said she plans to accept responsibility. But she will challenge the penalty, she said, because students cheated in years past.

“I’m really angry at the fact that students got away with this in earlier semesters,” she said. “We are taking the hit, and I believe that is unfair.”

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