Faust pities the cheaters

Drew G. Faust, the Civil War historian at the head of Harvard,
blames the current cheating scandal raging on campus, which involves as many as 125 Harvard students, on societal “pressures” and a lack of intellectual “excitement.”
This is another way of saying that her customers are determined to get the credentials they are paying for. (Link)

The Crimson reports,
Harvard first launched an investigation of 125 students in Matthew Platt’s government course “Introduction to Congress” in May after teaching fellows suspected that students may have plagiarized answers or inappropriately collaborated on the class’ final take-home exam.
The tenured professors are cheating by having "teaching fellows" handle the grading, if not the teaching. But that's not the scandal we're talking about here. And just think. An introduction to Congress - that's got to be an unbelievably hard subject. It's a tribute to our educational system that young people would even enroll in a course so daunting.

If I were Faust, I might say, "Why in Civil War history, we don't even know what plagiarism is." But that again is a different scandal and I don't know if it would help the cheaters.

Speaking of history, in the middle of the last century, Harvard ceased being a finishing school for the regional gentry. Today, it is a diploma mill for manic strivers nationally, kids who at age four are already signed up for the very best pre-kindergartens. Now the funny thing about manic strivers is that they tend to strive maniacally.

This cheating therefore opens an interesting question. If you cheat, does than make you more of a striver or more of a slacker? Because if it makes you more of a slacker, Harvard is right to be outraged to its very core and no punishment will be harsh enough. But if cheating makes the striver even more of a striver, well then, yeah societal pressures, blah blah blah, we understand, etc.

In her comments, Faust may be signalling that cheaters are the more intense flavor of what Harvard is really all about.

Update, 10/09: Meanwhile there's money to be made off of strivers:
Gerald and Lily Chow say in their suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that they gave Mark Zimny more than $2 million to get their sons into an elite American university, preferably Harvard.