Future Tense

More Than 80 Ohio State University Students Are Accused of Using GroupMe to Cheat

The Ohio State University Oval, GroupMe Logo

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Ubi Desperare Nescio/Flickr CC.

Ohio State University’s academic misconduct committee accused 83 students of “unauthorized collaboration” over the summer, and the school’s student newspaper reported last week that the cheating ring was using the popular GroupMe app to share answers.

The alleged misconduct took place in a Fisher Business School class last spring. Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the university, did not confirm whether the students were using the app in question. He did say, though, that use of social media is fine in cases like “sharing the due date for a homework assignment,” but unacceptable for sharing answers. The disciplinary process is still underway, and penalties for academic violations include dismissals and grade penalties.

GroupMe is a free text messaging app which allows users to create chat rooms with a select group of people. The app is often used for study groups and extracurricular organizations on college campuses. Inside Higher Ed points to a number of posts on forums and social media from students who have been accused of cheating simply by being a part of a GroupMe chat that started innocently and then devolved into a hub for cheating, even though they did not personally participate in the misconduct. It’s unclear how or if Ohio State University tried to distinguish those who cheated in the chat room (or rooms) from those who may not have.

This isn’t the first time that social media has been used for cheating. In 2011, administrators at a Belgian college used Facebook threads as evidence to indict students of cheating on exams. Two high school sophomores were also caught sharing questions to a Maryland English test on Twitter in 2015. The Lantern, the Ohio State University student newspaper, quotes a Fisher Business School lecturer named David Terry Paul who says that cheating is more common online. “When there are online assignments you know those aren’t monitored and obviously students can work together even though they’re not supposed to and that’s troubling and that’s really unfair,” he told the paper.