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Sunday, November 28, 2021

UF pharmacy professor accuses students of cheating

Over half of the UF class of 2021 pharmacy students will face a disciplinary council after allegations that they cheated on an assessment.

Priti Patel, a UF pharmacy professor, said students in her capstone course used an unapproved source during a November class session.

The four-hour class focused on diagnosing a fictional patient’s symptoms and determining treatment, said Patrick Chucri, a third-year UF law student defending one of the accused students, whom Chucri would not name.

“They were all looking at the same problem in class, so of course there was only one right answer,” Chucri said.

The students in the course were allowed to team up with classmates to analyze the problem and discuss the symptoms, Chucri said.

However, Patel saw the similar responses as students cheating. Patel claimed that 57 students out of 100 in her class used an online document with a similar question to find the answer to the in-class problem, Chucri said.

Patel filed the complaint with the Honor Court at Peabody Hall and listed the students she claimed cheated on the assignment that same month. Students who were listed will now face a disciplinary panel to share their position on the matter within the next few weeks.

“These aren’t lawyers or public speakers,” Chucri said. “These are college students who aren’t prepared for this type of questioning.”

The disciplinary council is made up of six students and one faculty member. The council hears cases that range from plagiarism to rape.

The pharmacy students who must face the council can accept the claim that they cheated and receive a zero or say they are not guilty and argue their innocence, Chucri said.

Accused students can also accept the charge that they cheated but ask for a lesser punishment instead of receiving a zero on the assessment. For instance, a student can say that they cheated but ask to retake the course, Chucri said.

“This professor is tanking the careers of these students,” Chucri said.

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The UF College of Pharmacy is currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. If the students are found guilty, the school could see its ranking drastically drop, Chucri said.

Patel declined to comment. The dean of UF’s College of Pharmacy, Julie Johnson, also declined to comment on the situation.

Robyn Pescatore, the UF Student Government pharmacy college senator, said that this incident does not represent what the school stands for.

“We have some of the brightest and most dedicated students and professors in the state,” she said. “I hope this gets resolved soon.”

Contact Taylor Roth at troth@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @Taylor__Roth.

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