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Bill Aims to Deter Academic Fraud in PA

After a recent scandal involving student athletes receiving falsified grades for classes surfaced at the University of North Carolina, a state legislator is pushing to deter similar incidents in Pennsylvania.  

Representative Stephen Kinsey’s (D-Philadelphia) bill would make academic fraud a felony.

“For this type of incident involving our young students, our future leaders, we really just want to make an impact to simply say ‘this is a serious offense, it should not occur’, and unfortunately we have to sort of put some type of penalty just to hopefully help keep folks on the right track,” said Kinsey.

Staff and faculty members involved will face third degree felonies if they are found to have falsified grades or test scores in exchange for goods and services. If the university conducts a “no-show class” in which athletes need not attend to receive a passing grade, those connected will face a second degree felony—punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

“My hope is that this will deter individuals from engaging in this type of behavior, and really just keep individual students as well as institutions honest” said Kinsey.

The UNC released findings in October of 2014 documenting academic fraud over the past 18 years, and disclosed that they had enrolled about 3,100 students in no-show classes.

Kinsey ran track and played football in college, and he says that it is easy to get swept up in the hype.

“A lot of these institutions you’re glamorized, especially when the university is doing well, you sort of become like a cult hero or folk hero right on the campus, and we just want to make sure that folks recognize that first and foremost you’re there to learn and hopefully obtain a degree,” said Kinsey.

There have been no recent cases about Pennsylvanian schools engaging in academic fraud for student athletes. Right now Kinsey is seeking so-sponsorship for his bill, and then he will present it to the House Judiciary Committee.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.
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