If the allegation is proven, they could be bounced out of school for a year. How much longer than that the stigma would follow them is an unknown. Political enemies of the late Ted Kennedy never forgot that he paid someone to take his exam at Harvard.
The question is: Why is this making the business pages?
The test was a take-home exam so the nature of cheating took the form of consulting with each other on what should have been independent work. The question is, of course, why is this making the business pages? After all these are undergraduates, not MBA students at Harvard Business School. Or even students at Harvard Law, who would be advising the captains of industry soon enough.
Too simple an answer is that it's Harvard. Ordinarily an issue like this would make the front page of general establishment daily media like THE NEW YORK TIMES and then be pursued in much more depth in glitzy monthlies like VANITY FAIR.
A more intuitive answer, I am convinced, is that this business focus is directly related to the enigma of how once pillar of the establishment Rajat Gupta could cavort with the thugs at Galleon Hedge Fund. Incidentally Gupta, just like former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling now in the slammer, graduated from Harvard Business School. Gupta will be sentenced in mid October and faces a maximum of 25 years on all convictions.
If the allegation is proved, where did the 125 get the message that it was okay not to do your own work?
That Harvard undergraduates, who have such a rosy professional path ahead of them, would possibly cheat raises the uncomfortable concern if unethical behavior is the way of the world in the establishment. Surely, the 125 had to get the message somewhere that not doing your own work is okay. Where that message comes from will be the subject for many opinion-editorials.