Yesterday's NY Times reported on the lengths to which officials at The University of Central Florida go to prevent cheating on tests:
"No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student's speaking into a hands free cellphone to an accomplice outside. The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen -- using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later -- is easy to spot.
"Scratch paper is allowed -- but it is stamped with the date and must be returned later. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student's real time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence."
An overhead camera? What was the dean's previous job -- pit boss at the Bellagio?
In any case, the methods used by the UCF students certainly sound more sophisticated than those used by the Russians spies who were just caught. Perhaps the SVR (the KGB's successor agency) would do better if it recruited from UCF.
And from a moral point of view, we've come a long way from West Point's famed honor system.
Whatever did happen to honor?
Probably the same thing that happened to chivalry, noblesse oblige, and modesty. Somewhere along the line it was deemed useless and consigned to the garbage bin of no longer desirable character traits.
The UCF students are evidently a little reminiscent of long term inmates, who with nothing else to do are constantly figuring out ways to circumvent prison rules. These inmates are actually ingenious at figuring out ways to communicate with each other, to make shivs, to smuggle drugs into the prison, and to make moonshine.
The UCF students ought to get a sort of prize for creativity, if not honor.
There was only one confusing aspect to this story: given the lengths to which they evidently go to obtain good grades, couldn't they have gotten into a better school?