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Forum, May 14: Geisel is failing its students

Published: 5/13/2021 10:00:06 PM
Modified: 5/13/2021 10:00:03 PM
Geisel is failing its students

These days, the Sunday edition of The New York Times rarely publishes much in the way of upbeat news. But it was particularly disturbing to read this week about the alleged cheating among medical students at the Geisel School of Medicine. On the front page of the Times, nestled among articles about “The Big Lie,” a foreign cyberattack on a major gas pipeline, a police shooting and impending war in Ukraine, was an article about cheating at Geisel, which left this reader with many more questions than answers.

During the year of the great pandemic, remote teaching and testing have been major challenges at every educational level. Earlier this spring, in the absence of transparent investigation, some 17 Geisel students stood accused of cheating on remote, closed-book exams. A few students may have been dishonest, a few may have been confused by the new technology, and several others may have been victimized by untested and imperfect tracking software so embraced by a few zealots among the faculty and administration.

As one who was privileged to teach students from the Geisel School of Medicine for 30 years, I was always impressed by their brilliance, idealism, compassion and honesty. The study and practice of medicine can be the most gratifying career imaginable. Yet, medical education, and indeed the practice of medicine in this country, has increasingly become a soul-sucking experience, a virtual minefield of potential moral injury. It is clearly the responsibility of our medical schools to nurture the talents and compassion of their extraordinary students.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the investigations, the administration of Geisel is failing in that mission. The leadership of Geisel should bear the responsibility for creating an academically disheveled environment where cheating is even considered, where technology is applied without thorough study and where students live in fear of reprisal for telling their side of the story.

Investigations of “professional misconduct” at Geisel tend to be secretive and opaque. If even a single student suffers the lifelong trauma of false accusation, the dean should fall upon his scalpel and resign.



The writer served as an associate and an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine from 1984-2015.

Gambling is dangerous

Soon the poker parlor on the Lebanon pedestrian mall will be a real casino, filled with slot machines brought in as an extension of “charitable gaming” passed by both the Senate and the House. Technically, they are “historic racing” machines. Once users hits the button, there is only a small horse race above their head, and the odds come from past horse races. But to the player, it is a slightly slow slot machine — a bet every 3-5 seconds, flashing lights, bells and frequent small wins to keep the player at play.

I have been fighting casinos in New Hampshire for 23 years. Now there will be eight, and in three years as many as the market will bear. A town’s only choice is to zone them into a safer corner, far from homes and foot traffic. An existing poker parlor cannot be re-zoned.

Slot machines are addictive. The closer you live to a slot parlor, the higher the chances of addiction. Addiction means losing so much money that you cannot pay the rent, or pay back the person you borrowed from, but you keep trying to win to get out of the hole. A small percentage of players will become gambling addicts, but not being addicted to anything else doesn’t keep you from this.

Remember where the money comes from and goes to. Profit from these machines is 8% of every wager. Three-quarters goes to the parlor owner-operator and the machine manufacturer that controls machine operation. One quarter is divided between the state (two-thirds) and the sponsoring charities (one-third). The customers lose 8% of what they put into the machines. Sometimes you will win enough to go home with more, other times not. If you bring $100 each day, over time you lose $8 a day. If you win big early and quit, you are ahead — otherwise not. These machines cannot tell whether you, your boss or your mother are losing too much. It’s up to you to recognize the symptoms and stop.



Stronger protection law needed

The tragic shooting in Newbury, Vt. (“Police: Man shot, killed his daughter,” May 5) underscores the vital need right now for a stronger extreme risk protection order law. When close family members recognize that a loved one shouldn’t have guns, they should be empowered by law to have firearms removed from a relative.

The police reportedly were told of his father’s fragile and declining mental condition. That recognition alone should engage the process of disarming someone who clearly shouldn’t be armed. Until Vermont bolsters its current extreme risk protection order law, expect more tragedies, especially during a pandemic, when we’re isolated and dealing with rising anxiety. The status quo doesn’t work.


South Woodstock

The writer is a board member of GunSense Vermont.

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