Nonfiction Book Award Status: GOLD
Every year, millions of students pay enormous sums for a college education. Most have no idea how easily a single false accusation can derail their dreams. Shocked, shamed, and silenced, they watch their futures crumble in the campus kangaroo courts of “academic integrity.”
Catherine Wagner was an enthusiastic, top-performing student when she unwittingly walked into a trap. After she gave a classmate authorized aid on one part of one homework question, a grader flagged their answers as “similar,” and both were accused of cheating. Innocent, Catherine was certain that she would be exonerated. Yet, despite the support of eight PhD experts from across the U.S., she was dragged through her university’s academic integrity machine on absurd “evidence” of similarities—even the simple use of “H2O” to abbreviate water.
Forced to defend her reputation and career prospects against the threat of expulsion, Catherine discovered that the University seemed to repeatedly break federal law, spy on her, and reject science in favor of fallacies and falsehoods. Using concepts from statistics and behavioral science to scrutinize audio recordings and university emails, Catherine systematically unmasked the unthinkable: a confidence scheme fueling clandestine research on more than 2,000 students for over a decade.
Catherine Wagner graduated Phi Beta Kappa from North Carolina State University as a valedictorian in both Chemical Engineering and Spanish Language and Literature. She served as Tau Beta Pi chapter president and enjoys writing in her free time.