Ohio State University. (Aceshot/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

More than 80 students at Ohio State University are accused of cheating, using a group-messaging app to collaborate on classwork, according to reports.

The student newspaper, the Lantern, reported that undergraduate students in a business marketing course in the spring were discovered using the app GroupMe to share answers on class assignments.

Ohio State spokesman Benjamin Johnson said Monday that he was unable to confirm that the students were using that particular app. But he said the Ohio State’s Committee on Academic Misconduct charged 83 students over the summer with violations of the student code of conduct, including “unauthorized collaboration on graded assignments.” He said the disciplinary process is ongoing.

“Students are welcome to use social media tools like GroupMe to communicate with classmates but must remember that the rules are the same for online and in-person interactions,” he said in a statement.

“For example,” he added, “in most cases, sharing the due date for a homework assignment is perfectly acceptable but sharing the answers to a final exam is not. Students should not share anything online that is prohibited by the rules for the course.”

Officials at the university said the misconduct committee opened an investigation after a professor reported the alleged behavior in April in a class at the Fisher College of Business.

“Any form of academic misconduct is unacceptable and the university takes all allegations seriously,” the university said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Students charged with academic misconduct violations may accept responsibility for the charges or request a hearing before COAM pursuant to the Code of Student Conduct. If found in violation, students receive sanctions based on the nature and severity of the violation in accordance with university standards and protocols. Sanctions for unauthorized collaboration range from warnings to dismissal and can also include grade penalties.”

Johnson, the university spokesman, said that the conduct of each student would be evaluated and that the students may not all receive the same disciplinary action.

He could not say what punishments the students received.

Ohio State junior Riley Buchanan told NBC affiliate WCMH that when students are “blatantly copying off of each other, that’s obviously plagiarism.”

But students say the incident has highlighted issues related to classroom collaboration in a digital age.

“I know it is very serious in Fisher and we don’t cheat because I don’t want to get [kicked] out of the college,” Yulyla Abukhovich, a senior, told the news station. “I think it is not right, but collaboration is required for a lot of classes, especially in Fisher, so as long as you don’t cross this boundary, I think it is good to use it.”

As the Lantern reported, because the course is a core class, students who are juniors or seniors may not be able to graduate on time if the disciplinary action includes forcing them to retake the course.

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