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.
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.
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