The Folly of the “Well-rounded Collective.”

Dartmouth Medical School is in the news for both its cheating and the scandal that emerged from overbearing countermeasures. When I was at Dartmouth we operated on the Dartmouth Honor Code. Want to do your calculus exam out on the Green? No problem, just be back in time. You had a “blue book” exam packet so everybody left you alone.

About ten years later they stopped favoring “the well-rounded individual” and started looking for “An Incan trapeze artist/cellist with an interest in entomology ” in Admissions. Administrators would extol the virtue of ‘specialists’. They started to try to engineer the well-roundedness of the collective rather than the individual. I mentored some of these kids. They stood no chance of passing Calculus without cheating.

The software is a countermeasure to the symptom but doesn’t address the cause. Getting back the culture of Honor once it is gone is a Herculean task. Something that took centuries to build can be destroyed in half a decade by practitioners of a corrupt ideology.

But the alternative to not trying is to be locked in a perpetual arms race that will forever erode the culture from within—until there is nothing left.