330 V O L . 7 7 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 9 THE ADVOCATE
After consulting with my parents, I decided to tell the teacher what had
gone on without naming names. She was understandably furious but also
quite sympathetic about my plight. The next time that group of students
assembled, she announced to the class that she had learned that there had
been widespread cheating on the last exam, so she had created a different
exam which everyone would sit and write then and there. She would then
compare the new mark against the old mark and reach her own conclusions.
That was a mighty panicked class. The tension was enormous and
suspicion abounded as to who the rat was. I can tell you that the rat rewrote
the exam just like everyone else and got exactly the same mediocre mark
as before. Then I embarrassingly found myself feigning fury at the
unknown rat after the exam just to save face. It was a terrible experience.
Later still, in university, I got it into my head that if I wanted to get into
law school I had better study some logic. So I took six credits in symbolic
logic and deductive reasoning. The course was in two parts and I was a few
days past the date on which I probably should have withdrawn before learning
it was an arts elective course aimed at science students (I was a musician
studying literature at the time). Symbolic logic, it turns out, is a form
of propositional calculus. Modus ponens, modus tollens and a series of squiggles
and upside-down letters are all I really remember. But at the time I
immersed myself in it. I earned an A in the first half of the course and then
things got really difficult. Still, I ground it out with extra study sessions and
meetings with the professor. When it came to sitting the final, I was ready!
Imagine my horror upon watching a scene unfold similar to what had happened
in grade 12—a group of students cheating on the final exam while the
professor remained blissfully unaware.
These people were not cheating the system. They were not even cheating
themselves. These bastards were cheating me! I had worked harder for
that exam than I had ever worked for anything in my life. Still, I was not
keen to be a rat again. I’d gone through that turmoil before and I simply did
not have the stamina for it this time. So those cheaters got away with it.
They went on, presumably, to get their science degrees and they are out
there in the world now—doing what? I don’t know … probably building
bridges and designing software systems for aircraft. But I left that course
more proud of the B I received than any other mark I attained at university.
It is that background and those experiences that informed my reaction to
the college admissions scandal that erupted on March 12, 2019 when U.S. federal
prosecutors revealed the existence of “Operation Varsity Blues”. That
undercover investigation led to a barrage of charges against dozens of parents,
test administrators and college coaches accusing them of efforts to rig