News | Academics

Professor hints at passage IDs before Lit Hum final; ID section will not be graded

Updated, 5/11 1:33 a.m.

Information about the identification section on the Literature Humanities final was leaked and widely distributed among students before the exam earlier today, and the ID section will be excluded from grading.

Lit Hum professor Ivan Lupic gave his students a handout identifying 10 passages likely to appear on the exam. The handout—which can be read here—did not identify the exact passages ultimately used on the exam, but every passage on the handout was within a page or two of a passage that appeared on the exam.

Lupic gave his students the handout on the last day of class and told them to study the pages surrounding those passages, according to Daniel Friedman, CC '16. Friedman was not in Lupic's class but received a copy of the handout from a friend in the class after the exam.

Facebook

Before the exam, some students distributed a list of page numbers online, including on Facebook (screenshot at left), and at Orgo Night and possibly elsewhere. Spectator obtained a copy of the exam—which can be read here—from School of General Studies Dean Peter Awn, and has confirmed that all 10 passages were close to those that appeared on the exam. (The 11th ID was from King Lear, a text which that class did not review, as noted in the Facebook post.)

All non-tenured professors teaching Lit Hum must administer the same exam. Lupic is set to receive his Ph.D. from Columbia this semester and has accepted a job as a professor at Stanford's English department, according to the Stanford website.

In an email to all Lit Hum students sent at 5:15 p.m., Lit Hum chair Gareth Williams confirmed that an instructor had released the approximate location of the IDs before the exam, and that students had distributed the information at Orgo Night early Friday morning.

The ID section will be excluded from grading, Williams said.

"We have no other choice at this time but to take pragmatic measures to ensure the integrity of the grading," he said in the email. "We intend to do everything possible to make sure that this does not happen again."

In an email to Spectator, Lupic defended his actions, saying that he "did not disclose any part of the exam to my students." Lupic noted that while his handout "contained a number of passages from the sections or chapters included in the exam," it did not include any passages on the exam.

"Its purpose was to guide our discussion, not to reveal the content of the exam," he said. "As my students can testify, our discussion ranged widely and covered entire works; it was in no way conducted in a way that would provide ready-made exam answers."

Williams told Spectator that he learned about the leaked information early this afternoon and emailed all instructors around 3:00 p.m. Williams said that as far as he knew, only the passage ID section had been compromised.

Awn, who taught Lit Hum this semester, received Williams' email while he was proctoring his students' exam. He said that according to Williams' email, significant information about the passage IDs was circulated among students before the exam, possibly after a professor gave the information to his or her students.

"It's just too sad, it's just depressing," Awn said. "And it's depressing for the people who really did well [on the ID section], who are going to get all this right. It's a shame."

"Everyone in my class was frustrated because most of us had studied hardest for the IDs," Friedman said. "And we felt we had done well on that section."

Lupic said that as soon as he received Williams' email, he responded to let Williams know about his handout. He added that he hadn't heard back from Williams, and that he would be "very surprised—and also somewhat amused" if it was his handout that had sparked the uproar.

"I thought it rather mediocre as handouts go," he said. "I should perhaps reassert that I did not reveal exam questions to my students."

Mutliple first-year students told Spectator that their Lit Hum professor, Nathan Pilkington, warned them as they left the exam that another Lit Hum instructor had leaked questions to his or her students before the exam. Awn said that while essay questions do not seem to have been leaked, information about the IDs was, although "not necessarily the actual IDs," just enough information to know what they would be.

"Obviously this is really disturbing to a lot of people," he said.

Some professors asked students to write and sign an honor code on their blue book before the exam. The code stated, "I have neither given nor received aid on this exam."

CCSC Academic Affairs Representative Steven Castellano, who has spearheaded a proposal for the honor code to be expanded campus-wide, said he received an email last night from a student saying that page numbers were going around. Castellano then forwarded the email to Williams.

"My reaction is obviously disappointed that there's all this ... cheating going around this past week," Castellano said. "But I am glad students have been talking to their professors about it."

"It all happened very quickly," Castellano said. "At least the process will definitely be transparent."

As he rushed to a meeting in the Core Curriculum office shortly after the exam concluded, Columbia College Dean James Valentini said that he didn't yet know anything about the Lit Hum incident. Williams said that any disciplinary repercussions would be dealt with by Valentini's office.

"It's clearly a problem," Williams said.

A similar scandal rocked the Lit Him final in 2007, when an instructor told students ahead of time which passage IDs would appear on the exam.

Jeremy Budd, Sammy Roth, and Christian Zhang contributed reporting.

casey.tolan@columbiaspectator.com  |  @caseytolan

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Anonymous posted on

The headline is misleading. The wrongdoing was on the side of the instructors not the students.

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Anon posted on

Thank you. Headline was changed.

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Columbia Spectator's picture
Columbia Spectator posted on

We changed the headline almost immediately after we posted the story—thanks for your concern!

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Anonymous posted on

Why are Columbia College students cheating so much?

CC students cheating at Barnard and now at CC.

What is going on?

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Anonymous posted on

The students did not cheat. An instructor distributed a study guide which was too specific. This was a problem with an instructor not understanding the guidelines of the exam. The students acted within their expectation to use study materials distributed by their instructor.

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CC '16 posted on

Plain and simple, the kids did cheat. They told everyone essentially what the passage IDs were. Referring to it as a "study guide" is stupid; everyone should realize that if a professor tells you "oh the ID will be from this page area," it's TELLING YOU THE ANSWER.
While they couldn't stop their teacher from giving them the answers, they could have not spread them themselves. They're both to blame.

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Anonymous posted on

I disagree with this entirely. On some level, we as students have the right to trust our professors. If a professor hands out a study guide and suggests passages, you can't expect students to just assume that he is in the wrong.

On top of that, Literature Humanities is a class taken by nearly the entire CC freshman class, and collaborative studying is to be expected. Any information given to one class is assumed to be ok for any other class to use as study material.

Also, there was no way for the students to know how specific the study guide was.
For all they knew, none of those passages were going to be on the test.

Typically in situations like this, the students take the brunt of the blame, but I believe that in this circumstance the professor who distributed answers to students who trusted him to do the right thing is chiefly responsible.

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Anonymous posted on

If you fell for that... as if you really could not distinguish a blatant violation of the rules, you shouldn't be here. Also just because a class is "collaborative" and offers students the freedom to study with others does not mean sharing the answers is still good idea.

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CC '16 posted on

The thing is, the students don't know what's on the test. For all they knew, the passages were totally false leads. How are you expected to know that your teacher's study guide is too specific if you don't even know what's on the test?

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CC posted on

This would be true. However, if the Facebook post is to be believed, the professor didn't just hand out a study guide with passages and say "these are good to study," he clearly made it known that they were also likely to be on the exam. I really doubt that these students were blissfully oblivious to the fact that they were being given the answers.

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Anonymous posted on

The students were not complicit in any academic dishonesty until they received the exam and realized that the information they had received would give them an advantage over others. Yes, when the students received the study guide, it could have been a fake lead - someone trying to trick them or someone else with a malevolent goal in mind. The students on the receiving end could have thought, "this seems to be too specific, i mean, we did read some ridiculous number of pages, how can i be sure that this is right?" But that does not stop each student who received the study guide from going up to a Professor proctoring the exam and telling them what happened.

However, this is the instructor's fault: he went against the Core Curriculum Office's rules, prescribed a study guide too specific and gave it to his own class, and then ruined the test for all other Freshmen in CC.

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Karim posted on

Why is obvious troll trolling so much?

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Anonymous posted on

Why are Columbia College students cheating so much?

CC students cheating at Barnard and now at CC.

What is going on?

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Anonymous posted on

The students did not cheat. An instructor distributed a study guide which was too specific. This was a problem with an instructor not understanding the guidelines of the exam. The students acted within their expectation to use study materials distributed by their instructor.

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Heisenberg posted on

1 0 MAY 10, 2013 @ 4:13 PM REPLY TRACK
It is complete bullshit if they throw out only one section of the test. Let's say I spent all my time focusing on the ID's and didn't put a lot of time into the other sections, only to have the section I focused on canceled. Let's say when I studied I only focused on trying to identify passages and not overall thematic components. Cancel the whole test or cancel none of it, can't be halfway on this.

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Mike Ehrmantraut posted on

No more half measures, Walter.

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Anonymous posted on

I think you missed the point of the core if you focused only on IDs...

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Anonymous posted on

It was irresponsible of you to spend all your time focused on a section which accounts for only a third of the exam (possibly less?). Going by your flawed reasoning, you would only have gotten, at most, 33.3% in the exam which is a fail anyway so your call to "cancel the whole test" is unfounded.

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Heisenberg posted on

You are missing my point. I obviously did okay on the essays, just canceling part of a test is never dair

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Anonymous posted on

You are missing another important point, which is that Lit Hum is NOT THE ONLY EXAM PEOPLE HAD TO TAKE!! What if you made a decision that affected the time invested in Lit Hum studying vs. other studying and therefore ALSO affected your final grade in another class, so your hard work is doubly wasted? Plus it's nearly impossible to "study" for the essays, and students who know they are weak in critical writing will cram extra hard for the IDs to boost their B to a B+, etc.

@Spectator, no way to click through to pages 2 & 3 of comments. Fix?

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Burhan Sandhu posted on

I mentioned this to a friend; it's unfair to discount honest efforts at the ID section from students who didn't use the study guide, but it's be more unfair to count everyone's section and ignore the issue entirely. Pretty sure what happened last time was that people were allowed to let the IDs get discounted or take a whole new exam. It seems to be the most rational and fair way to deal with the problem... the question is, how does this happen twice? Somebody let Gareth dole out corporal punishment

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whatobvioustroll posted on

Let's say you are stupid.

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Burhan Sandhu posted on

@Editors: This article needs a little more copy editing.
- graf 6: "actual ideas" or "actual IDs"?
- graf 7: "that" not "tht"

I'm down with the ID section getting cancelled... had no idea where that Dante ID was from haha

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Anonymous posted on

-graf 5: missing "he" before "received"

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lol posted on

oh i didnt know someone commented already

also paragraph 5:
According to School of General Studies Dean Peter Awn, who taught Lit Hum this semester, __ received the email.

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lol posted on

please correct all the typoes in this article...

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Burhan Sandhu posted on

lol typos*

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Anonymous posted on

It was the fucking athletes!!! An anonymous person told me an anonymous athlete heard from an anonymous football player that the football team got the IDs from a teacher that is actually an undercover football coach

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Chad Washington posted on

strikes again.

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yesthattrollagain posted on

and you a fucking loser

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Anonymous posted on

It was the fucking athletes!!! An anonymous person told me an anonymous athlete heard from an anonymous football player that the football team got the IDs from a teacher that is actually an undercover football coach

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Anonymous posted on

Professor was Ivan Lupic

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Anonymous posted on

Oh, this guy. He came in with a PhD already in hand and has, if the other grad students in his department are to be believed, always been INCREDIBLY rude to his peers. Good job screwing it up for 1200 undergrads and dozens of instructors. How many student/instructor hours, how much effort, how much exam prep, how much good faith has been wasted? The exam meetings for large Core classes EXPLICITLY include reminders not to share ANY information with students. two PhDs can't keep one jerk from acting like a moron. Let Stanford have him! Good riddance.

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Let's be sensible posted on

I've had Ivan as an instructor before in a different course. While he admittedly isn't the most friendly guy ever, I can't see him intentionally cheating. He is totally the type of person who would have gotten the list of passages and carelessly given it out before stopping to read the instructions warning him not to do just that. At best it was still a dumb oversight, but honest mistakes can happen. Not saying he's totally innocent, but hopefully people will wait to find out what actually happened before getting on his case.

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ARRRRGH posted on

This guy's response to the Spec makes him seem like even more of a tool. What he says is both *incredibly smug and completely disingenuous*. Dude. Check out the Facebook post. Check out the Scribd scan of your handout. That is *all the answers to the ID section*. If you told students to "look at the pages immediately around these passages" (which you clearly emphasized and they clearly understood, to the extent that they correctly believed they were sharing the exam answers on Facebook and at Orgo Night) you were, no two ways about it, *giving them the answers*. So instead of students reviewing MULTIPLE THOUSANDS OF PAGES OF READING, or (more realistically) the sections they know from class discussion/quizzes/papers/whatever are important (but that's still easily many hundreds of pages), all they need to do is read the sections closely surrounding these 10 page numbers to be prepared to answer those questions correctly (so let's say that means 10 pages around each page #, though in reality each answer was within *1-2 pages* of your "suggestions").

Are you serious? Who is this ninny? He says more or less: "I'm stupid enough not to understand the basic and obvious principles of fairness that would apply here." He also says more or less, "I'm smart enough to know that if I wanted my students to do well I wouldn't have to provide answers, just curve the grades." Which is it? Are you that stupid or do you understand the system and intentionally mess up everyone's work, and perfectly time it for the end of the semester when everyone wants to be done with this? "I wasn't giving away the answers, but somehow my brilliant students figured out I was, and if so I'm very sorry!" That seems like a fig leaf (HINT: ANSWER IS FROM GENESIS).

*P.S. Does anyone from his section have a handout from the fall final?* Just curious if he's done this before.

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Anonymous posted on

This instuctor needs to be severely disciplined.

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Anonymous posted on

I am just going to give my humble opinion here: if these answers were being passed around, if it was strongly suggested that these were the answers, how is it that anyone can say this wasn't cheating? If that had just been any other little study guide, it wouldn't have gotten passed around as much as it did. A friend of mine offered it to me, and I said no because I had enough integrity to know that it was wrong. For those of you who used this, YOU KNEW what the implication was. The professor is at fault here. I COMPLETELY AGREE. But so are the students who used this. Accept your responsibility in this scandal too. Accept that you did something wrong too, and don't blame it on JUST the professor.

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CC '16 posted on

I don't mean for this to be antagonistic, but why didn't you report this after turning it down?

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Anonymous posted on

I rather not reveal my name, but I did.

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Ray posted on

No. It's not the girl's fault she got raped.

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Cheating is bad and all... posted on

but thank Alma Mater for this section not being graded. I don't think I did too good on it #obviouslydidn'tgetthememo

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Silver Lining posted on

Same. I guess I studied for the right sections!

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ugh posted on

So I spent the time studying specifically for the passage ids to get them right without cheating...to have them discounted?

And I spent the same amount of time on each of the sections but I knew I did the best of the passage ids.

Discount all of it...no halfsies! D:<

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Ana Vargas posted on

All students shouldn't be punished for the errors of a few. That's why the fair solution is to allow students to retake of the section IF they want it. Even if you personally don't want to retake it, support students who do. It's the fair thing to do.

Sign here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/optional-lithum-id-section/

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Anonymous posted on

It's alsmost summer break, focus on going home. In the bigger scheme of things you will realise less than a third of your lit hum exam being discounted is really not the worst thing in the world. Better we focus on putting measures in place to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again in the future

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yesthattrollagain posted on

Recommended measure: get rid of president Bollinger and all the Deans. Get an entirely new group of people to lead this university. Think about it. It couldn't get worse.

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Anonymous posted on

Professor nothing; this is a graduate student with no moral compass; thank goodness not a real Columbia professor, just a mistake in hiring a Columbia graduate student for this job; hope he never again sees the inside of a classroom. A disgrace.

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Anonymous posted on

A professor can be a cheat; Ivan Lupic--hope he never sees a classroom again and does not receive a Ph.D. from Columbia--is a cheat. Yes, he should be held to standards. But even if he is a cheat and a liar, any student who accepts his cheating sheet is also a cheat. Let's not be ridiculous. Just because the professor is a cheat does not excuse a student of his who accepts to cheat and passes the info around. They are all liable, all cheaters, all moral and ethical losers.

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Lit Hum Prof posted on

Calling Ivan Lupic a cheat is excessive and premature. I'm not defending his actions: creating that handout was at best naive. So call him unprofessional; call him foolish. But recognize that instructors have zero incentive to help their students cheat in this way. As the blowback from this incident proves, the opposite is true. If Lupic wanted to help his students pass, he could've just graded the passage ID's very leniently.

It's also silly to say that Lupic ought not receive his PhD because of this incident. His teaching in Lit Hum bears no relation to whether or not he's earned this academic degree. It's a job for hire.

But, yes, anonymous: the students who used and circulated this handout, assuming that it would give them an advantage not intended by their instructors, certainly cheated. To pretend otherwise is just denial or hurt feelings.

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yesthattrollagain posted on

ROLLING ON FLOOR LAUGHING MY ASS OFF!

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Anonymous posted on

Passage IDs to Columbia Students is like making a middle schooler learn English by copying the same sentence over and over again. They are inane.

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jack_hammer posted on

tempest, meet teapot

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Academic posted on

Ivan Lupic is not a cheat. He did not cheat on anything. He also did not help anyone cheat on anything, as none of the students who used his study guide can be called cheaters. Not only were they given study materials by their professor and specifically told to study those materials, they also circulated the information relatively freely. This is not an instance of cheating, THIS IN AN INSTANCE OF LOWERING THE BAR. Cheating is a natural part of biology; it is evolution telling us to get ahead. Cheaters should not even be looked down upon unless they are hurting others (cheating them out of money, messing with an exam curve (which Lit Hum does not have), etc.), or unless they get caught (in which case they are stupid). Lowering the bar, is not natural, it is lazy; it is what evolution was meant to weed out. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ACADEMIC BAR? This school is a joke, and Ivan is a perfect example of the pathetic breed of Academia that exists here. What did he gain from giving out that study information? At most, he felt good about himself for helping people, but he was only helping people who are too lazy to do a little studying. The Lit Hum exam is disgustingly easy, just like almost every other Core exam here, which is why the grading system here is similar to high school: teachers actually feel bad about giving out Cs and Ds, and I don't know if I've ever heard of someone who legitimately failed a class (legitimate as opposed to getting caught cheating or getting an incomplete). WHERE IS THE ACADEMIC COMPETITIVENESS? The only competition we have is: who can swallow the instructor's spoon feeding with the least spillage. This is not an academic institution at the undergraduate level; it is career prep. We are told exactly what to do, and if we can do it thoroughly and accurately, we win. Ivan Lupic is not a problem, he is a symptom. THE ISSUE IS NOT THE STUDENT CULTURE, IT IS THE FACULTY CULTURE. What happened to the days when professors really challenged kids - not by giving them an ungodly amount of work or trying to trick them, but by asking them to learn truly challenging material - and there was a meaningful curve? What happened to the days when grades were not only a reflection of diligence, work ethic, and awareness, but also of creativity, curiosity, and raw conceptual power? As I follow current events in the sciences, I get the feeling that most of the "innovation" that we see today is really just completion or extension, without the novelty that characterized the booms in biological, physical, and technological developments of past generations of scientists. I used to think that it was a matter of availability: there simply isn't as much to discover anymore; we're only filling in the gaps now. Lately, I'm starting to wonder if it is actually just the laziness of our age that is responsible for replacing the dynamic minds of the past with a bunch of lab drones and capitalists (by which I mean those who are uninspired when economic gain is not the direct and explicit aim of a project). Maybe we should let Ivan Lupic go on with his degree and join the generation of academics who are motivated by the desire to get by, but how about this: next year we start only admitting Ph.D candidates who believe that students who don't know how to read or study properly deserve to do poorly on exams. Maybe someday, even the smart people will have to cheat to do well, and the curve will actually mean something again.
* I apologize to those who are just here to work hard, get decent grades, and find a job. I am not condemning you, and I absolutely believe that you are valuable to society. I am addressing an issue of Academia, which makes this commentary irrelevant to all those seeking out a place in business, industry, art, or human/global outreach.

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Ender posted on

While I don't necessarily agree with every word you wrote, I believe you have a good point to make. While this isn't the place to write about academic evaluation in general, you are right that present policies tend to reward those who choose the least effort path.

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Outsider posted on

This is clearly the professors doing and not the students. In many courses, math, science, literature, the professors hint at things likely to be on the exam. That is why it is so important to go to the last class.

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Ender posted on

And every other class as well...!

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Curious posted on

Curious why this story hasn't made it into the Stanford Daily. Also wondering if Spectator contacted the Chair of the Stanford English Department for comment.

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Ray posted on

Jeez, your final exams are piss easy! How can you guys be ranked ahead of us in USNews?

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ball31barber posted on

Have We Ever Considered A Career In The Adult Industry Adult Cam HQ

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