my new boss cheated in college — and I was the one to investigate him

A reader writes:

I’ve found myself in an interesting situation that I’m not sure how to handle. My department recently got a new department manager (two levels above me), and it is someone who I graduated college with.

I was not friends or acquaintances with this person in college, but he and I know each other because I investigated him for cheating and plagiarism in our senior year (I was on the student honor board), right before graduation. He pled guilty and received a “dean’s star” on his transcript, which essentially says that he graduated, but was caught cheating the honor system.

Well, fast forward 10 years, and I’m now in his department.

I don’t respect this person for a variety of reasons, but mostly because he cheated in college (and not just on small homework assignments, I’m talking about final exams and term papers). He also continues to represent our company at our alma mater’s annual college fair, which also feels wrong to me, as he did not graduate honorably.

So far, he’s done his best to ignore me, like if we’re walking in the hallway, he’ll walk past and won’t make eye contact. But we’ll have “skip level” meetings twice a year where I’ll be alone with him, one on one, in his office, talking about career progression. (We haven’t had a meeting yet since he just started.) Other than those, my interactions with him will be pretty minimal.

How do I interact with this person during those meetings? Do I just ignore our history? I’m sure he remembers me and our shared history, even though it was so long ago.

I’m also considering talking to HR about his cheating in college. What would you do?

I’d potentially talk to HR, but not to report the cheating.

Reporting to HR that someone cheated in college 10 years ago feels … well, a little petty. It’s not that cheating isn’t a big deal; it is. But it’s 10 years in the past, and in a different context than work. Given that it’s a decade later, your new colleague was presumably hired on the strength of what he’s done since college, not on the basis of his college grades or college work.

I’m concerned about something different: the fact that your boss’s boss is someone who at best appears to feel uncomfortable around you because of this incident and who at worst might hold a grudge against you or want you out of his department for his own comfort. That could potentially impact your job security.

If you’re pretty sure that he’s deliberately ignoring you — if, for instance, you see him interacting with other people at your level and can tell that he’s treating you differently (as opposed to ignoring them in the hallway too) — then I do think you need to talk to HR to make sure that they’re aware of the situation and your concerns about how it could impact your job.

If that’s the case, I’d ask to meet with them and say this: “I feel awkward about raising this, but I’m concerned that interactions I had with Bob in college may impact our professional relationship now. Bob and I were at University of Bumblesplat together and as part of serving on the honor board, I had to investigate him for cheating and plagiarism in our senior year. He ended up pleading guilty to the honor system violations. When he was hired here, I was hoping we could leave that in the past, but he’s been ignoring me, won’t acknowledge me in the hallway, and won’t make eye contact. I’m concerned that he may feel uncomfortable about the past, and that it could adversely impact my career here. I really don’t want to stir up awkwardness and I would love to just move forward without letting this impact anything, but I’m obviously concerned.”

Note that the emphasis here isn’t “Bob cheated in college.” It’s “I want to make sure this doesn’t impact me in this company.”

Before you do this, though, I’d first make an effort to be sure that Bob is truly being weird with you. In fact, it might make sense to stop by his office, say hi, and try to see if you can make things feel a little more normal. Don’t pretend not to recognize him (that’ll just leave him worrying about when you’ll figure it out). Just be normal, the way you might if you recognized him from school but didn’t know him well — “Hey, it’s great to see you again. We went to Bumblesplat at the same time.” Try being warm and friendly and see what happens.

He might be worried about weirdness from you, and if you can make a point of showing that as far as you’re concerned, this is going to be a normal relationship with no shades of weirdness from the past, it might smooth things out. That’s the answer for how to act at those skip meetings too, but I think you need to establish contact now rather than waiting for those, so that you can get a better sense of whether this is going to be a problem or not.

If you get any weirdness, that’s when you talk to HR.

(I suppose that there’s an argument that you should talk to HR no matter what, because you need to protect yourself in case there’s something you can’t see coming … but I’m hesitant to recommend that you stir this up if you’re not seeing real cause to.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 476 comments… read them below }

  1. self employed*

    I wonder if there is a way to adjust your reporting structure so that you can do skip-levels with someone else.

  2. Jesmlet*

    I would definitely go to HR no matter what. Better to alert them to the dynamic now than tell them later after something happens. Just make sure the attitude you bring in there isn’t accusatory or like you’re asking them to do anything besides make a note that this previous relationship exists.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, it’s very important not to sound judgmental. 75% of people admit to cheating in college so there’s a decent change the person in HR also cheated in college and might not be very sympathetic towards OP. I’m not saying OP shouldn’t say anything (although I would personally let it go) but she should be careful.

      1. Chinook*

        Yeah, but there is cheating on an assignment and then there is cheating as the OP describes which is on final exams and term papers, which is supposed to show that you understood what you learned. I am less sympathetic towards this type of cheater getting caught (but I still agree with AAM about it not being the focus of the chat with HR).

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I’m not talking about what’s worse or who is more or less deserving of sympathy. I’m just saying that cheating is ridiculously common and to be careful when speaking with HR.

          1. Mike C.*

            This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve found time and time again that if you have a significant amount of people doing something “bad”, it’s because the surrounding environment encourages it. It doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it certainly helps to explain it.

              1. Secure life of lab mice*

                Huh? Do you mean breaking road rules on a bicycle (e.g. going through red lights when no one is coming from the other directions) or do you mean that bicycling in general is a bad idea?

                1. Kay J*

                  I think they mean the huge problems with doping in professional cycling. Lance Armstrong was far from the only doper in the Tour, and many still feel pressured to dope to compete with everyone else.

          2. Anna*

            Then I question how broadly they defined cheating. With a percentage that high, it’s probably a pretty broad definition and is likely to include things that most people wouldn’t technically view as cheating.

            1. Catherine*

              I’ve had times where I wasn’t really sure whether what I was doing could be considered cheating. I took an online programming class. The professor was unable or unwilling to teach, as in he was completely unhelpful, did not respond to emails. We were pretty much on our own. The weekly lectures were not even his content- They were from the previous professor. He said we could use online resources for assignments/tests and it wasn’t cheating as long as we understood how it was done. But sometimes when searching the web to try to learn a concept (or try to figure out which concept I needed to learn) I came across a very similar or exact same question from the homework (it seems professors seem to ask a lot of the same questions for these beginner classes). I didn’t always completely understand every aspect of the code when I used it. I played with it, deconstructed it, reconstructed it. I read all the lecture notes and required reading, watched youtube tutorials, etc. But sometimes I still didn’t understand it fully. Didn’t feel great about turning it in, but by the point in the semester where I realized the professor really wasn’t going to be helpful, I didn’t have many good options.
              It was a frustrating experience.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Actually, I’ve been told by more than one person in higher ed that schools (and eventual employers) in certain countries don’t have the same definition of “cheating” and “plagiarism” that we do in the U.S., and it takes a LOT of explaining for these students to understand what they cannot do here.

              2. mirinotginger*

                No. It’s that the standard and definition of cheating and plagiarism in different cultures aren’t the same as they are here. I was a tutor in college and many international students (especially, although not exclusively, from Asia or the Middle East) didn’t understand why they had to cite sources, or why they couldn’t hire me to just do the assignment for them. US students were also generally terrible at cheating, but at least they shared the common cultural acknowledgement that what they were doing was wrong. A woman who worked at my school and did her masters in Dubai said that on test days, half the people taking the test would be people the actual students paid to take the test for them. Different cultural standards.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I know – especially considering the percentage is even higher with HS student – 75-98% admit to cheating at least once.

            1. C Average*

              I wonder what the definition of cheating is.

              I never, ever even thought about cheating in school. Seriously. I was squeaky clean all the way to my bones.

              I did, however, let a group of girls in high school copy my homework. I was a small, mousy, unathletic nerd with few friends. The girls were popular, socially savvy, and threatening as hell to me. I had been threatened and slapped and shoved in my locker and socially ostracized, and I didn’t want to invite more abuse than I was already getting. If someone bigger than me wanted to copy my homework, I was going to let them, and there was no way in hell I was going to rat them out to a teacher or administrator. Which was definitely cheating, and I definitely knowingly participated.

            2. Not admitting this*

              I cheated in high school because I had to be perfect to get into college and I wasn’t perfect enough. I wasn’t caught.
              I never cheated in college because I didn’t have to go to grad school and thus I didn’t have to be perfect any more.

          2. Loose Seal*

            You can correct for things like this in statistics. It’s called social desirability bias. I am not anywhere near an expert in this but fivethirtyeight had a good article about this earlier this year. It’s so you can get good responses to questions people tend to want to look good for, like this cheating question. But also “have you used a prostitute?” or “have you used drugs?” I’m super interested in this because I find it interesting to ponder why society thinks certain behaviors are “good” or “bad,” especially those behaviors that don’t hurt anyone (although you could argue that some behaviors hurt the doer, like smoking, but I don’t think society (in the U.S. at least) frowns on smoking in public because they are worried about the smoker’s health) or that happens between two consenting adults.

        1. ceiswyn*

          I suspect that most of those ‘cheaters’ did things like fabricate some values for a practical when the equipment was playing up, and stuff like that. Not cheat in Finals.

          1. Kiki*

            I dry labbed a chem result once. I did a statistical analysis of the actual values reported by other students, and concluded the probability of various results, then reported the best possible answer. The grad student and prof called me on it, so I showed them my pages of analysis. They were so impressed that they passed me. I actually spent more time on the stats than if I had just done the darn lab. They later invited me to speak to the grad students’ group, topic was “Dry Labbing Done Right”, of course.

            1. Mike C.*

              Nice work going to the trouble of finding values that were within norms rather than simply making them up out of thin air. One other thing you might find interesting is “Benford’s Law” regarding the first digit of a series of numbers. It’s incredibly fascinating!

          2. Lily in NYC*

            I think people would be very, very surprised at how often cheating on finals occurs (I used to proctor exams). I even caught someone who is now a Senator! And yes, it was a final.

            1. SimontheGreatestMind*

              This is why I switched entirely to large group discussions for finals. You can’t cheat by not watching the material and just going off in your own direction (we watch the documentary in class), and you can’t cheat by making me think you participated when you didn’t (I keep tally marks). Also, I can tell how much you understand by the depth of response you can give to classmates.

          3. Lucie in the Sky*

            There are many of us with liberal arts degrees that never took any classes that even had practical type labs. I don’t know anyone that cheated on term papers personally, but heard rumors about students getting 0’s on them and bitching later in the student lounge or the like. However, I knew several people who would write things on their desk / shoes etc to pass classes I remember the quadratic formula being a big one in our Algebra course, or Kanji you were stupposed to be able to write in Japanese things like that. I also heard from my roommate that she knew a girl who’s mom wrote all of lit papers. That 75% number doesn’t shock me at all.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I had a coworker who blithely mentioned, in conversation with me, that her sister wrote all her term papers because it was “too hard” for her. She didn’t seem to have any awareness that this was something she should be ashamed of.

              1. Random Lurker*

                I was very proud of myself for being in that 25% that never cheated… Then I remembered that term paper I wrote for that boy I dated for like 5 minutes my junior year. Now I’m ashamed. I doubt he is, however.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I write my husband’s cover letters for him for job searches and he’s searching in academia so I’m sure lots of people would be doubly appalled. But he isn’t in a writing sort of field so a cover letter is not demonstrating command of language or anything. He gets paralyzed looking at the blank paper — or Word doc — and can’t think of what to write. So I have him talk to me about why he’d be good for the job and I craft his responses into a letter. It’s not quite dictation because I lead the conversation and then choose what to include when I write it. I like to think of it more as ghost writing, but again, I understand why people would be appalled. Not gonna stop though. Papa needs a new job.

                2. Rebecca in Dallas*

                  I helped my husband with some of his cover letters as well. He’s an engineer/programmer, not a writer. I didn’t write them from scratch, but took a (figurative) red pen to them afterwards.

                  My SIL and BIL went to law school together after they were married. I can guarantee they were helping each other out. Not that they aren’t smart (they are both incredibly smart), but they for sure had a leg up being in most of the same classes.

          4. KHB*

            The example I thought of was collaborating more closely on problem sets than was technically allowed, like sharing finished solutions instead of talking about the problem and each writing your own solution. If that counts as cheating, then I’ll admit to having cheated once or twice.

            But if the 75% counts just things like cheating on exams or downloading finished term papers, that’s really depressing.

            1. Anlyn*

              In high school, we flat out copied each other’s papers right before class; often right in full view of the teacher. Especially math, for me; others would copy my history homework.

              I don’t remember cheating on tests, but I can’t say I didn’t because it was simply normal; everyone cheated in some way or another in my high school.

          5. CheeryO*

            Yeah, I can easily see 75% if they include things like using online solutions manuals/answer websites – virtually my entire class of engineering students used them for homework assignments, if only to check our work. We also did most of our homework as a group (which I think was really helpful since we could brainstorm and teach each other for classes where the professor/TA may have been less than effective).

          6. Silent*

            I fabricated an entire science project once! It was supposed to be on some details of plant growth, but I’m a terrible gardener so all the plants just repeatedly died on me. I gave up on them and just wrote my report based on what preliminary research told me should happen. I got a decent grade, and no further plants were harmed by my utter botanical ineptitude.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              I had to wire up a circuit design with just basic logic chips. My design worked, but there were dozens of tiny wires on a low-quality breadboard and every time I added a new section it jostled a previously-working path loose, with no way to detect exactly where it happened. So I subbed in some chips with more complicated logic and the TA didn’t even spot it.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I never cheated. I just couldn’t be arsed to do my schoolwork and so got pulled into the department head’s office with my advisor. I did lie about why I was having difficulty, and they bought it. I made more effort after that but ended up leaving anyway before I graduated.

          This was in music school; when I returned to college later, I did much better. Still without cheating, though.

        3. BananaPants*

          Nope, I believe it. I went to college in the late 90s/early 00s and even then cheating was common.

          In schools with strong Greek systems, frats and sororities maintain files of old term papers, midterms and finals, problem sets, etc. My grad school (where I go online) has over 30% of undergrads as active members of GLOs. They have a combined BS-MS program so a lot of students just stay on for the additional year to get a master’s degree too. It’s VERY common for students to troll through those files in doing homework and take home exams. Everyone has to sign an honor code statement saying we won’t, but our summer intern 2 years ago was an undergrad and said that pretty much everyone in his frat signs the honor code and then flat-out ignores it. It happens with athletic teams and clubs, too. At least for math and engineering courses there are clear right and wrong answers to many of the questions – running the homework through a plagarism detector isn’t going to work. Some of the profs add discussion/essay questions to homework assignments so that students can’t just regurgitate whatever they found online.

          More than once I’ve had midterm and final exam problems where I found the exact example on the Internet, but not associated with the school or professor – they’ll be in a vendor’s design guide or in an industry reference as a worked example. IMO if the professor doesn’t bother to mix it up a little so that it isn’t easily-Googled, I feel zero compunction about making use of it.

          1. BananaPants*

            And when that scenario has happened, I reference the example problem online in my answer (most of our profs require references to standards or other documents used in solving problems on midterms and exams). I’ve never had a professor take issue with it!

  3. Betsy*

    As a university administrator, I’m wondering about the confidentiality surrounding your honor board. At my university it would definitely be in violation of FERPA for you to share specific information about an individual’s conduct record with anyone. I would suggest checking on that before having any sort of conversation with HR.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Would it be a violation if the OP were to just state generalities rather than specifics? (Something like, “I was on an investigative committee in college, and Bob was the focus. The results were not completely satisfactory to him.”) If there’s a mark on his transcript about it, anyone who looks at his transcript could find out.

      I’m inclined to think that the OP should try to cover herself. I’d hope Bob has learned his lesson, but I tend to think that the older you are when you engage in academic cheating, the more likely you are to be dishonest/unethical in other areas.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Maybe I’m just suspicious, but if someone said “investigative committee” to me, I’d assume it was harassment/assault, not academic.

    2. Cake Wad*

      Yeah, this is a FERPA violation regardless of what university the OP’s alma mater is. OP, if you need to go to HR, leave out the educational record details and just keep it to having an interaction in college (call it an academic interaction if you want to avoid it sounding relationshippy).

      1. LSP*

        Is it a violation even if he plead guilty? I’m honestly just not familiar with these types of boards and am genuinely curious.

        1. nonegiven*

          It probably meant he took a deal, plead guilty and graduate. Make it harder for everyone and be expelled.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Higher ed employee here. Depending on the board requirements, it may or may not be a FERPA violation to discuss his conduct. Many disciplinary boards like OP mentioned are open, with the student waiving his/her right to privacy in that situation. But unless OP knows that off the top of his/her head, he/she should check with the university before discussing anything with HR.

      1. Damn It Hardison!*

        FERPA violations are levied against institutions, not individuals. The OP would not be sanctioned in this case, especially as the OP is not currently a student or employee of the university.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Students serving in college leadership roles must abide by FERPA if they deal with sensitive information. This is also true for students who have work-study jobs in, say, the admissions office.

        1. Adam V*

          Wouldn’t there be some sort of “I understand and agree” paperwork you’d have to sign before you’d be under any restrictions?

          1. Lemon Zinger*

            Not necessarily. It’s implied that if you work with sensitive information in higher ed, you must abide by FERPA. Most students aren’t aware of it, but I’d think that OP would have been, in his role on that committee– provided Bob didn’t waive his right to privacy.

            1. Observer*

              “Implied” doesn’t mean much.

              Considering how little many PAID STAFF at educational institutions are aware of the most basic rules around FERPA, no one should ever work based on implied knowledge, especially when it’s non-staff.

              The responsibility for keeping “educational records” confidential is on the school. Which means that either they don’t use student boards or they make it VERY, EXPLICITLY clear that the students on the board need to follow the same regulations. If they don’t, that’s on the school.

              Work study is a bit different, in that, yes, it’s a student, but that student is an employee, and should be following the same policies as all employees (and should have been given the same handbook.)

            2. Loose Seal*

              I was going to ask if FERPA was around ten years ago and then decided to Google it. I am stunned to find out Nixon signed it into law in 1974! I never heard about it when I was in college in the late-eighties/early-nineties. I just started hearing about it six or seven years ago when articles about helicopter parenting became popular.

              (This doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic but I have rarely been so stunned by information as I was when I saw this law is older than my younger siblings!)

            3. LeRainDrop*

              People who are on the honor board are well aware of it. It is a big part of the training that you go through before you’re authorized to take a case.

              1. Observer*

                It doesn’t sound like that’s universal at all schools.

                In any case, the OP clarified that FERPA almost certainly doesn’t apply in this case.

                1. LeRainDrop*

                  Ah, I see that now. I read many of the comments on this thread, but apparently not enough to notice that the OP did come back and clarify that her school’s honor proceedings are open to the public. Thanks.

          2. Zephyr*

            I serve on my university’s conduct team. Before every hearing there is a statement read into the record that states everyone at the hearing is bound by FERPA and cannot speak about the case outside the hearing room. It applies to faculty, staff, and students at the hearing.

            1. ceiswyn*

              But if there’s a ‘Dean’s star’ on his transcript that says he was caught cheating the honor system, it’s not as if that’s confidential information.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                But he has control over who gets his transcript. It’s like a medical record. I can tell anyone I want that I have X condition. The nurse in my doctor’s office cannot.

              2. Chinook*

                “But if there’s a ‘Dean’s star’ on his transcript that says he was caught cheating the honor system”

                I am still marveling at the fact that they still let him graduate despite being caught cheating at something big enough for them to put a note on his transcripts since most people don’t look at transcripts but at the degree itself. If he were an engineer or doctor, I don’t think I would trust his knowledge the same way if I knew about that star.

                1. Jennifer*

                  I’ve never heard of such a thing in my life. Heck, I’ve never heard of cheating getting a note on transcripts either.

                2. Sas*

                  Chinook, you should open up your eyes. Not everyone who goes to become an engineer or doctor is some sort of stellar student. My ex lied and cheated his way to more than two times being kicked out of medical school, he graduated eventually, and is now operating on people. Ha ha There is a lot that goes into that sort of thing. Anyways, I think that “we” can all have a somewhat skewed sense of things relating to that kind of topic.
                  On another note, a woman that I went to high school with had her mother, who was a professor and an assistant to some major department in the prestigious local to us university that she worked in write MOST of her papers. Or her mother had someone else who worked with her do them. B–ch, that’s 99% of the difficult work in high school. I am supposing that this did not end in college. Not sure, though. She made partner at her law group at a younger age in our area, had an article written about all of her grandiose accomplishments in one of the local magazines, and she has always sh–ted on people beneath her, would also judge people that “cheated”. Life is such. It is truly unbelievable and not quite right. We have to move past that. The same and really only advice that should be given to the OP.

              3. SophieChotek*

                I admit to thinking a “Dean’s Star” actually sounds like a good thing…unless I knew the context//meaning.

                1. cataloger*

                  Same. I’ve never heard of such a thing, and picture some kind of gold star meaning you graduated with honors.

                  What is its purpose, given how few employers are going to look at a transcript? Does it make more sense earlier in your college career, so they can keep track in case it happens a second time?

                2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Right? It sounds like an additional honor, like the Dean’s List or the Dean’s Merit Award. It should be called an Academic Black Mark or some such.

                3. Loose Seal*

                  Me too. That sounds more prestigious than Dean’s List, which for those educated outside the U.S., is an award you get for being above a certain high GPA each semester.

                4. Sas*

                  Ha ha . (At graduation as the assembly is seated and hearing names being called for exceptional accomplishments in the school) And the gold star goes to (the person that OP is working with.) Op is like wtf??

              4. Betsy*

                And even if he does issue his transcript to someone, all that gives them information about is the presence of the mark on his record. It doesn’t give them a right to all the details around it. He would have to consent to have any of the details released (assuming they haven’t been removed from his record, which they often are after a period of time). Assuming that the university in question hasn’t set up their conduct proceedings in some sort of unusual way that makes them public, I’m sure the OP was given information about FERPA at the time she was volunteering, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t remember it ten years later.

          3. Nameless for This*

            I was on my university’s judicial council (honor council dealt with violations of academic policy, judicial council dealt with non-academic policy violations). I only ever sat on two committees, but at the beginning of each I signed a confidentiality statement and at the end I also had to turn in any/all notes.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I think this falls under “Volunteer Employee” category. That they weren’t paid for it is not the same as not being “employed” in the sense that they are serving a role for the college.

        However, as somebody who works under numerous NDAs, you can still communicate the information generically.

        “I served on a student board that investigated him for misconduct, and it had some consequences for him. Nothing life or death, but there’s a bad history and I don’t know if he’ll hold it against me. So far there’s been a weird vibe, but nothing that’s specific.”

        You’re not stating the offense, the level of it, or what the consequences were. It encapsulates the issue without giving away anything privileged – it doesn’t even say who the consequences came from or what the relationship of the student board is to the school. So it could be anything from getting demerits for breaking fraternity rules up to the range of the cheating (implied not worse by “nothing life or death”).

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I think “investigated misconduct” for non-higher ed professionals would lead right to assault. Sometimes my non-higher ed friends don’t understand misconduct investigations can be done for things like cheating, acting like a total jackass, etc.

              1. Whats In A Name*

                A trend in the past 10+ years has be a transition to campus police being trained and sanctioned as state police officers. I have worked on 2 campuses where that is the case.

              2. Elysian*

                They’re actually required by Title IX to address sexual assault through their own disciplinary system in some way. Not their choice :-/

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Yes, but what many of them have done is *substituted* their own disciplinary system rather than allowing the assault charge to be investigated and handled by the police/legal system, and then imposing their own additional disciplinary action based on that result or their own additional investigation. That’s a major issue as they are not as equipped to carry out such investigations. Their methods of fact-finding are completely different.

                2. Nameless for This*

                  Yes, students are told that they have the option of going to the police or it can be handled entirely through a university disciplinary committee. Some students choose to not report to the police for any number of reasons.

                3. animaniactoo*

                  Nameless, students *may* be told that at some colleges, but there are others where they are told that they *must* go through the school disciplinary and should not report to the police. In fact, have been told that there will be action against them for going to the police rather than following the internal school process. Theoretically in some of those cases a “validated case” is supposed to be reported to the police, but it doesn’t always happen.

                4. Elysian*

                  animaniactoo: They aren’t allowed to wait for a criminal prosecution to finish before doing their own investigation/imposing punishment if warranted. They also have to use a different standard of proof than the criminal system (they are required to use something less stringent than proof beyond a reasonable doubt). It’s a whole different thing, and it is different at least in part because it is required to be different by the applicable laws. Whether they’re good at it or not is a legislative issue – many of them are just doing the best they can do to follow the law.

                5. animaniactoo*

                  Elysian, thanks for that info, I didn’t realize it was direct and immediate investigation on their own. I really don’t have a problem with that, I just have an issue with those schools who have decided their own investigations and disciplinary process are complete substitutes for police investigations, or must precede police notification. I don’t know how much better that’s gotten; I hope a lot.

            1. Evan Þ*

              A whole lot of colleges do it anyway. You might’ve seen some of the controversy a few years ago about college investigations of rape charges.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yeah, for a crim class paper once, I looked up the statistics for assaults on my campus and they were absurdly low. Way too low to account for people not reporting; however, that could have been the case due to their handing/lack of handling it.

                And this was on a campus that had a Missouri LEO certification training program.

              2. LeRainDrop*

                If you’re interested in this topic (on-campus investigation of sexual assault), I recommend that you watch the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which is available on Netflix last time I checked.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Yes, that’s why I stressed the “nothing life or death”. To give some context to the level of this. I would hope that most people would correctly interpret that as nothing involving major physical assault (including rape or sexual assault). If you felt like it needed to be spelled out though, it could be changed to say “To be clear, not a physical assault, nothing life or death, but…”

      3. neverjaunty*

        This is a question that the OP should be asking a lawyer knowledgeable in FERPA – not people on the Internet (even people knowledgeable about FERPA or are lawyers). As is pretty clear from the comments, there are too many variables to know for sure whether the OP is bound by confidentiality and, if so, to what degree.

    4. Retail HR Guy*

      Does FERPA really apply to other students, though, or just University employees? I wouldn’t think being on the student honor board would be a paid position. I know next to nothing about FERPA but thought that it just covered institutions receiving public funding and not private individuals who attended the school.

    5. Emmie*

      I came here to say this. It’s a violation of FERPA to release this info, IMO. Maybe she could say “an incident while I volunteered for a college committee.”

      1. Jennifer*

        I would be as vague as possible, just say you had some kind of negative interaction at college you’re not at liberty to discuss. Or something like that. I think it’d be a hot button of drama to say exactly what.

    6. TotesMaGoats*

      What others are saying here. FERPA violation. It doesn’t matter that she wasn’t a college employee. Odds are the honor board members signed some sort of confidentiality agreement because while on the board they had access to student record information that was beyond the normal directory info that can be given out.

      I would say that the opportunity to share this info would only come AFTER the new boss has done something hurtful to the OP, which doesn’t help the OP.

    7. LadyCop*

      Yes! Immediately thought about FERIA. And how I wish people would stop holding FAR pettier things I did 10 years ago against me…

      1. Whats In A Name*

        All I know is it’s a good thing there was no Facebook when I was in college. I’d still be haunted by what might have shown up online back then.

    8. Observer*

      I’m fairly sure that you are incorrect – the OP was not on staff.

      Although I could see FERPA making student honor boards effectively illegal.

    9. irritable vowel*

      FERPA aside, I’m super-uncomfortable with the OP bringing up the cheating investigation with HR. If it gets to a point where the OP feels she needs to say something to HR because the other guy is continuing to be weird, then she should do that, but without bringing up this episode in the past. It feels like an airing of dirty laundry that doesn’t have any relevance to the actual issue, which is that the guy is behaving unprofessionally. And if he finds out that the OP brought this up with HR, that is absolutely not going to make things better! I would strongly advise discretion here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s trickier than that though, because HR isn’t likely to do anything about “my boss’s boss is being weird and standoffish with me,” whereas they’re more likely to be on guard against actual adverse action against the OP if they know the actual facts of this situation.

        1. irritable vowel*

          No, of course there needs to be some context, but I don’t think it needs to be so specific. I think it would be okay to refer discreetly to “an incident that happened when we were in college, but it isn’t my place to give more details.” HR doesn’t really need to know more than that, and if they press, then the OP can say something about FERPA prohibiting her from elaborating further. (And honestly, does it really matter what the reason was other than that it has created an awkward situation that the boss’s boss is having difficulty being professional about? It’s something that happened in the past, was resolved appropriately, and the specifics don’t have bearing on the current workplace situation.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think it does matter a little bit, unfortunately. HR is likely to take it more seriously if they know what it’s about than if they’re led to think it could just have been a personal disagreement or personal dislike.

            1. AD*

              I work in higher ed, and I’m not sold on the FERPA angle in this case as OP was not a staff person. I don’t think we should leap to the certainty that FERPA applies here, as a lot of people have done. It’s not that cut and dried, especially in the scenario described here.

          2. LBK*

            Maybe something like “I was in a position of authority that led to negative consequences for him; I’m concerned that now that he’s in a position of authority over me, there seem to be negative consequences occurring for me”? I think that highlights the main issue, which is the reversal of the power dynamic and potential for a grudge to be help that could lead to that authority being abused, but I’m not sure if it’s vague enough to skirt FERPA.

        2. Chinook*

          Exactly. There is a possibility of retaliation if the boss holds a grudge.

          Story time. DH is a cop and we are separated but looking at reuniting. Turns out a guy who broke DH’s thumb while DH arrested him now lives across the hall from me and is one of my commuter bus drivers. DH normally doesn’t tell me this but felt the need when he ran into this guy in the hall and wasn’t sure if he was recognized. Would/should I tell driver’s bosses about the arrest and conviction? No because it isn’t relevant (and I am glad I didn’t because he really is turning his life around). But, if he started treating me poorly, this information would help to explain the motive of his actions because I am not a random passenger in his world.

    10. LeRainDrop*

      I was coming here to say this same thing. I was on my university’s honor board while in law school, and I know that we are absolutely bound to confidentiality by law. I’m not 100% sure of the language this many years out, or what the consequences would be for breach, but I feel quite certain that we still cannot disclose the identity of an accused/guilty person or any of the facts/circumstances of their case. It would sort of ironic if the honor board person were to violate their oath of confidentiality. And yes, this was by law, not just by internal rules of the school.

      1. AD*

        Are you in the U.S.? Because there’s no “law” that governs this. And FERPA is a little hazy on non-staff disciplinary committee members who are students, despite what others have said above.

        1. LeRainDrop*

          Yes, in the United States. FERPA is a law. As I said, I am certain that at MY university the honor board members are legally bound to confidentiality.

  4. bemo12*

    From the letter it sounds like he just started, or is pretty new, so I would definitely try and establish a repore with him first and see where that goes. Maybe I am reading too much into the letter, but I detect a note of either jealousy or anger at his position. For all the OP knows, he may not even remember them. I certainly can’t remember most people from college.

    I would try and establish a relationship with him and if awkwardness ensues then I would loop HR in.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Or angry at being caught… (I’m assuming that you are an ethical person. I’ve noticed that unethical people tend to be less mortified about their behavior than angry at others for “ruining things” for them. Or maybe I watch too many episodes of Forensic Files and Dateline…)

        1. Mike C.*

          I think it’s important to remember that folks do unethical things for multiple reasons – because they are desperate, believe they can get away with it, lazy, bored and so on.

          The person in question admitted his guilt and suffered the consequences. I don’t think it’s right to brand them forever.

          1. Jen RO*

            I agree. It was 10 years ago! I really don’t see how cheating in college is in any way relevant in the present.

            1. Ellie H.*

              I think academic dishonesty is a deplorable offense that reflects strongly on your intrinsic character. I would not want to work for or with someone who I knew had cheated in college in a systemic and repeated way (which is the situation OP describes). I feel differently when it is an incident where it is one test or paper, in an act of desperation that involves psychological distress or mental health issues in some way (I’ve commented this on here before). I feel you can usually tell the difference between this scenario and someone who does it more than once having discovered he or she can get away with it. It’s this that I think really does reflect on you, rather than being panicked or under unusual pressure.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                I completely agree! If Bob had had some sort of diagnosed problem leading to his cheating, most schools nowadays would have gotten him into counseling, etc., instead.

                I have an older family member who dropped out of HS due to severe, undiagnosed dyslexia (he later got his GED). At least he failed honestly, and I know that cheating would have never occurred to him.

              2. TL -*

                I was in a highly competitive program and I’ve worked at extremely highly competitive schools and – I can see being academically dishonest and getting caught and learning from it.

                If you’re competing with 30 other students for the one A in the class and your lifelong dream is to get into medical school and you know you can’t get in without a GPA of 3.75 or above, you’re taking 18 hrs, of which 16 are upper division courses – people make stupid, stupid decisions sometimes. It’s a data point (hey, other people make it through without cheating!) but it does not define a person.

                1. Ellie H.*

                  Can you clarify a little bit what you mean by this? You acknowledge that other people can succeed in competitive school and programs without cheating. It discredits their work and their degree to let people who cheat receive the same degree with no consequences.
                  I agree that I can see learning from your mistakes after getting caught, reforming your character and becoming a different person. But I don’t think that that means it’s ok to expunge the record.

                2. Sparrow*

                  Hmm, I think it really depends, as Ellie H. suggests. I also work/have worked with students in highly competitive programs, and, yes, some of them turn to academic dishonesty in a moment of desperation. Those are the ones who I think are most likely to learn from their mistake. The ones who repeatedly, deliberately, knowingly cheat, as it sounds like this person did? I find that’s more a sign of character. It’s certainly possible that he has matured since then, but knowing this about someone would instantly make me wary of them. I mean, I sure as hell don’t want a doctor who cheated their way into med school – it’d make me question both their qualification and their ethics.

                3. TL -*

                  No, you shouldn’t expurge the record – and if you get caught cheating, you’re not going to medical school. If you get caught, you suffer the consequences. (That is what happened here; and it’s quite possible – even likely – that he is really good at his job and that’s why he’s two levels above the OP despite that.)

                  But I’m getting this impression: Cheating like this automatically makes you a terrible person! You’re dishonest and lacking in character!
                  That’s not necessarily true, and it’s especially not true 10 years out. This person made a hugely bad series of decisions. He got caught; he got punished. He had his consequences and he should be allowed to move on with his life without having this being the defining moment of his intrinsic character. People screw up in ways big and small. Most of us learn from it, grow up, and move on.

                  @Charlotte: If you have had more than one doctor, I would bet good money that you’ve had a doctor that has cheated in large or small ways in their college career. But luckily, after college they still have med school, internship, and residency to grow up and learn before they’re allowed to treat patients on their own. :)

                4. Evan Þ*

                  Patpat – not just one “A”, but when grades are curved, there’s a limited number of A’s for the students to compete for. (In a lot of my college classes, granted, they said that if you got over some absolute score you could get an A no matter what the curve – but that score was pretty high, so in practice, there were still a limited number of A’s.)

                5. Loose Seal*

                  @ Charlotte Collins: Interesting. I would have no problem if I found out a doctor bought a paper for the required English Lit class because they didn’t have the time or desire to read the novel and/or write the paper because they were too busy studying for their math and science classes. (I’d have a greater chance of being concerned if I found out they had hired someone to take their MCAT exam for them and I would be truly concerned (and likely leave the practice) if the doctor hires someone to take their continuing education classes today because I’d see that relevant to the work they do with human lives everyday.)

                  The only problem I have with students buying papers for the required general studies classes is that it further separates the haves and the have-nots. I guess I’m pretty loosey-goosey when it comes to things people see as cheating. But I certainly don’t think an action from someone whose frontal lobe likely hadn’t fully developed at the time — assuming this person was the traditional college age at the time of the suspected cheating — is comparable to someone who now a decade later can theoretically decide between actions that are “right” and “wrong.”

                  (Apologies if this double-posted. My internet stuttered at the time I was posting.)

                6. Loose Seal*

                  @Charlotte Collins: I’m not one who actually does care about doctors’ bedside manner. I don’t want a friend; I want someone who can take my spleen out competently.

                  I have a doctor I have to see monthly and he is the bluntest person possible, like if you were casting for a Gregory House-like MD, you’d pick him. I find that bluntness really nice, though. I know he’s never going to sugar coat anything and I also know I can be pointedly direct with him as well. I wouldn’t recommend him as a doctor for everyone though.

                  I have had other doctors with pleasant bedside manners and they were so polite and kind that none of them spoke directly to me about the fact I was putting on more weight than was healthy. Never ever. They could not bring themselves to be unkind enough to impact my health decisions.

                  I stand by what I said about not caring about my doctors cheating. It just doesn’t matter to me. Cheating, and maybe bedside manner, apparently does matter to you. People differ.

              3. Mike C.*

                I wouldn’t want to work for someone who believes that singular actions are true and permanent reflections on the nature of one’s being. That’s a philosophy that leads to never believing that punishment can never make up for a sin and that people who make mistakes are irredeemable.

                The rest is speculation based on little to no information.

                1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                  But it isn’t a singular action in this case – it is a repeated pattern of dishonest behavior.

                  I believe in second chances, absolutely, but there is a difference between a singular mistake and an ongoing behavior that clearly speaks to your character.

                  That’s not to say you can’t be redeemed from previous bad character, but IMO it takes more to prove you’ve overcome it than coming back from a single mistake

                2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                  I bring this up because people are saying she’s wrong for not respecting him for something he did 10 years ago. I get not having respect for someone with a record of repeated dishonesty.

                  Do I think he should be fired? Only if his education was one of the reasons he was hired and he lied about it (like we discuss all the time here when someone lies about their education on their resume). If his degree was immaterial and only his work history mattered… no I don’t think he should be fired. But if I were the OP, I would wonder how much of his work history is honest, based on his past actions.

                  I do think not being in his direct line is the best case for the OP. She doesn’t have to worry about retaliation for something that happened 10 years ago, he doesn’t have to worry about disrespect for something that happened 10 years ago

                3. Charlotte Collins*

                  I agree with I GOTS TO KNOW!. I don’t think he should be fired, but if I were the OP, I’d be little more likely to be wary of him and his decisions. There are bad decisions most college students make and there are Bad Decisions that prove someone is operating on a different level than the average irresponsible college kid.

                4. Mike C.*

                  @I GOTS TO KNOW!

                  Given the complete and utter lack of information you possess on this specific case, what would it take for you to stop holding it against this person and have it interfere with everything they do in life?

                5. Mike C.*

                  I don’t care if the OP respects this person, that’s the choice of the OP. What I care about are so many people here assuming they have all the facts, ignoring anything that might mitigate the situation and presuming that this person’s life should be utterly ruined because of it.

                  It’s presumptuous, it’s short-sighted, it leads to a world-view where no one can ever be redeemed and it doesn’t even help the OP. It’s little more than folks trying to outdo each other about how bad cheating is.

                6. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @Mike C., I don’t think it’s accurate to call this a “complete and utter lack of information.” The OP informed us this person cheated on final exams and term papers. That, right there, is information. Now, would I hold it against him for the rest of his life? Of course not. Would I automatically assume he is honest today, as I tend to assume about people when I first meet them? Um, no. He’s already proven otherwise, so I’m not starting at zero with him. I’d file him under “wait and see.”

                7. Mike C.*

                  @Rusty Shackelford

                  The information is incomplete, thus it’s entirely useless for what many here are using it for – justification to assume this person is completely immoral and should never be trusted and so on.

                  “Wait and see” is perfectly fine and reasonable. You’re still gathering information, you’re not making a concrete judgement on the soul of this person and so on. It’s the extreme reactions I find are getting out of hand.

                8. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                  @Mike C – I am not saying it should be held against him for everything in his life. But in this context, it makes sense that it is an issue. OP knows he was a cheater. Wondering whether he is still a cheater is valid. Wondering if her role in his punishment will affect her is valid. Not having a lot of respect for him right off the bat is valid.

                  I know your comments aren’t just about what I have said, but since they were directed at me here, I have not anywhere on this thread said he should never get another chance any anything ever. But I do think it is probably best for everyone that she not be in his line of reporting. Is that holding it against him? Sure. But people are petty about far less damaging things, so wanting to protect her from him, AND protect him from her (“he didn’t give me a fair review because I caught him cheating in college!” for example)

                  So while I do not think it should impede every area of his life, I also don’t think it is something that plays no role in who he is or how he is viewed. I don’t think it is something you can just say “it was 10 years ago get over it” – and while it’s not on the level of never getting passed it either, it requires more work to get passed than other things.

                9. LBK*

                  Agreed with IGTK – it’s not the cheating that needs to be promptly addressed, because there’s no evidence he’s still acting that way. It’s the uncomfortable nature of the OP and her manager having a history that’s likely to cause tension between them. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to work for someone in that scenario, completely independent of whether I had any qualms about their moral character. It’s like not wanting to work for your ex: it’s not (necessarily) because you think they’re a bad person, but given the history, it might be difficult to maintain a normal business relationship.

              4. mazzy*

                100 percent agree. I’m getting through life maintaining 100 percent honesty and no cheating in school. I don’t get why there are comments trying to rationalize or explain why it is sometimes OK because it’s not. No one is entitled to getting straight As anyway possible.

                1. Lissa*

                  I don’t think anyone has said that cheating is OK, just people have different standards for how much it should affect one’s life, or for how long. Especially considering the stats above which say 75% of people have cheated in some manner, that would be extreme to never want to trust anybody in that 75%. I just don’t think that imagining different reactions for different scenarios is saying it’s OK, personally.

                  I mean, I definitely think circumstances matter, and this is way more serious and does not look good, but I think , as happens on these threads, people get to talking about the general principle, not just the one scenario.

                  For instance I would think it was seriously weird if somebody held against me my one academic dishonesty — copying off a friend’s test in grade 9 history. But nobody wants a doctor who cheated their way through med school.

            2. Temperance*

              I really disagree with this. I think that extreme cheating like this – not once out of desperation, but on many serious assignments and final exams – shows an extreme lack of character. I would think that this personally is fundamentally dishonest and lacking integrity.

              I’m actually disturbed that Mr. Cheater was able to skip ahead of LW by at least two levels in his career. I feel like there should be actual real-life consequences for activities like Mr. Cheater’s, and it’s really depressing to me that there aren’t.

              The mark on his transcript is really … nothing. How many jobs actually ask to see that?

              1. Mike C.*

                What is it that you folks want? Do you want this person fired? Do you want them banned from the workplace? Do you want them branded so that no employer will ever think to hire them?

                Should nothing else in their life count? Should we maybe, just maybe not speculate on incomplete information for something that happened ten years ago?

                I have a few speeding tickets on my record, which unlike cheating are actual, civil infractions. Am I an unforgivable sinner as well? Should I be fired from my job? Should I be subject to this sort of speculation and judgement as well?

                1. Adam V*

                  To be fair, I think past speeding tickets often can disqualify you from jobs where driving is a requirement.

                  Speaking to your larger point, I agree that people should have the opportunity to move beyond their past infractions, and so I think OP should keep this in their back pocket unless and until Bob starts treating them unfavorably.

                2. Temperance*

                  I’m an attorney. I had to disclose any speeding tickets (of which I have none, btw) when applying to the bar. So yes, I think this could be material.

                  This is vastly different. Speeding tickets show that you’re a careless driver. Repeated instances of cheating show flawed character.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Disclosure isn’t the issue here, the issue is your continued judgement on a perfect stranger with incomplete information. You presume things that haven’t been mentioned and you ignore any mitigated circumstances.

                  You aren’t an arbiter of personal morality. You don’t have the information, the judgement or the standing to say in this case that this person fundamentally lacks moral character.

                4. LBK*

                  I don’t think this should count against him forever, but I do think I’d keep an eye on him to see if he had changed his ways or not. I’m totally on board that mistakes from your past shouldn’t haunt you in eternity, because obviously people do change – but the OP doesn’t know if he’s changed yet, and moreover his apparently icy attitude towards her is a problem all on its own. If he’s changed his ways, he certainly doesn’t seem to have moved on from the incident.

                  To me, repeated, long-term cheating on big assignments like that shows a certain cavalier attitude about what you consider to be “victimless crimes” in the name of getting ahead, something I’m sure Wells Fargo would have a lot to say about lately.

                5. mazzy*

                  Would there be something wrong with firing them? It’s not an outrageous thing to consider. Honesty and integrity are pretty big things in many jobs. For example, I used to work with sensitive data that I could change and manipulate and probably never get caught.

                  Would you want the subject of the letter in that sort of job?

                  The traffic ticket thing is a straw man. Of course they shouldn’t be fired for THAT but that is a different situation. You don’t get a ticket because your a cheating, dishonest person.

                  I’m also with temperance on the fairness aspect. Only ten years out of school and the cheater is higher ranked than OP who never cheated. The boss is not setting a fair example of how to progress in the world.

                6. Loose Seal*

                  @ Mazzy:

                  The traffic ticket thing is a straw man. Of course they shouldn’t be fired for THAT but that is a different situation. You don’t get a ticket because your a cheating, dishonest person.

                  Except it’s not unknown for people to get their reckless driving tickets reduced to a speeding ticket. Or for someone to get a DUI later reclassified as reckless driving. It’s all in who you know or who you are.

              2. Jen RO*

                I just got home from work and uh… I am honestly shocked at the number of comments basically insinuating that OP’s coworker cheating makes him a horrible person forever. And “skip ahead”, really? What makes you think he wasn’t just… you know, better? Or maybe OP took a different path to the position he is currently in? OP has some legitimate concerns, but I wasn’t expecting this amount of judginess towards the coworker’s character.

                Also, I cheated in university. Multiple times. Not on my final exams – because I was afraid of getting caught – but on other exams, sure. I should just go ahead and resign, ignore the last 20 years of my career, because obviously I have been deceiving everyone with my, uhm, completely-unrelated-to-my-job-degree.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Exactly. We don’t know what the context of the work is, but they could just be better at their job than the OP, which is why they are further in their career.

              3. (Another) B*

                I really disagree with this. I think that extreme cheating like this – not once out of desperation, but on many serious assignments and final exams – shows an extreme lack of character. I would think that this personally is fundamentally dishonest and lacking integrity.

                I’m actually disturbed that Mr. Cheater was able to skip ahead of LW by at least two levels in his career. I feel like there should be actual real-life consequences for activities like Mr. Cheater’s, and it’s really depressing to me that there aren’t.

                10000% agree. Thank you. I was trying to put my feeling into words.

              4. Jennifer*

                That’s life for you.

                Some jobs do ask for transcripts, but jobs probably aren’t aware of what a “dean’s star” means.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I know. If I saw that on a transcript, I’d be surprised a university was giving out gold stars like they do in Kindergarten class but I’d most likely assume it was a good thing. “Dean’s Star” is a really weird title to give to something that is generally considered very bad behavior.

            3. 42*

              But to this day, even though he admitted to it and I don’t see that he was actually sanctioned for it–if I missed it, my apologies–he’s still reaping benefits from his cheating. In a parallel universe he might have been expelled, and then all the consequences arising from that.

              1. Jennifer*

                I don’t think that many people get expelled for cheating these days. The impression I get is that usually it’s handled by just giving them an F for whatever they cheated on and then their grade is based on how they did in the rest of the class. You probably need to be really tanking in school for several terms or doing something really bad to get kicked out any more. But just for cheating? Nah.

                1. Talvi*

                  At every university I’ve attended, that the F was for academic dishonesty is indicated on the transcript (iirc, it’s an F8 for the course instead of just an F).

                2. New Bee*

                  I was on the Honor Committee in college, and the rule was you could punish for the assignment, but not the whole course. So the prof could give the person an F, and if the assignment was weighted enough for them to fail, and if failing meant you didn’t graduate, etc., so be it. Being found guilty did go on your academic record for 7 years (so it would be disclosed on graduate school apps and such), but that was part of the process, not intended to be a punishment.

          2. Charlotte Collins*

            But has he suffered any consequences? He got his degree. It sounds like he didn’t have to retake any classes. And he got a mysterious mark on his transcript. If anything, he’s learned that cheating isn’t that big a deal.

            And I think there’s a big difference between being Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread and being a college student stealing someone else’s intellectual property (which is what plagiarism is).

              1. Loose Seal*

                As he should, in my opinion.

                To me, it’s the same sort of thing Massachusetts is handling by their “Ban the Box” law prohibiting criminal background checks unless it’s deemed necessary for the job. If we, as a society, agree that it doesn’t matter if you’ve shoplifted in the past if you are applying to, say, a data entry job, then why does it matter if this person cheated in school 10 years ago.

                [I figured if the cheating was truly an issue at the type of field OP and this boss is in, OP’s question would have centered around how to alert HR that this person’s past cheating was likely undiscovered at hiring and is currently an issue in their workplace rather than questioning how to personally deal with this boss’s potential non-professionalism directed at the OP.]

            1. Sarah R*

              Not to mention that he’s now in a management position while OP, who was never investigated for cheating, hasn’t gotten there. Yes, he could legitimately have done better work to get where he is. But it does cross your mind that he might have just gotten better at appropriating others’ efforts.

              1. Sans*

                That’s way too much speculation. The OP has no idea what this guy has been doing the past 10 years. Maybe he’s a really good employee who earned his position. It’s not fair to assume, based on something from 10 years ago, that he isn’t. Time will certainly tell if he’s competent. There’s no way that type of resentful feeling (“he’s ahead of me in his career, he must have cheated his way there, too!”) belongs as part of a calculation on what to do, unless the OP sees current proof this is happening.

                1. Andrew*

                  Yes! I cannot believe the number of people who essentially want to put him on trial again for cheating. I’m assuming he has dealt with the consequences ten years ago and has moved on since then. He may or may not be a very good manager and got to where he is now on his own merit. Nobody knows what’s in his heart. He may be avoiding contact with the OP because of his own embarrassment that the letter writer reminds him of! If he won’t acknowledge the letter writer, then that person needs to be the bigger person, and break the ice first with casual conversation. That should be the end of the story.

              2. NW Mossy*

                The other thing to bear in mind is that “appropriating others’ efforts” means something very different in a work environment vs. an academic one.

                For example, at work, it’s a totally reasonable (and smart!) thing to follow a solid process developed by someone else to do a task or follow someone else’s template word for word. At school, though, it would be totally wrong to do this because you’re expected to develop your own process or produce original writing.

                Ultimately, the objectives of work and school are different. At work, it’s often more important to have a timely and accurate solution than it is to develop the solution from scratch independently because you’re there to achieve a specific outcome. At school, the purpose is to demonstrate that you’ve learned certain subject matter and can produce a particular piece of work without help.

                My staff has been out of school for decades, but I still find myself fighting them on their holdover idea that it’s not OK to ask for help, collaborate, and/or use another person’s work as a model if it’s good. I certainly give credit to those who develop good methods or suggest helpful improvements, but I don’t need every person on a 7-person team to do that on every task.

            2. Rafe*

              So what do you want? Serious question. He was investigated and pled guilty and the university handled it however it deemed appropriate. Who knows? Pleading guilty might have come with less harsh punishment in return, such as the asterisk next to his name rather than being expelled.

              But again — why is what the university decided 10 years ago was appropriate not enough?

          3. Here, kitty, kitty...*

            I normally agree with you, Mike, but this time I must respectfully disagree. Cheaters in college who cheat on major things, not just homework, have an intrinsically manipulative character, in my opinion, which is based on both my own horror at their dishonourable behaviour and my own observations of such people over the years. I’m not surprised to hear that this particular cheater is now higher up on the corporate ladder than the LW; people who think it’s okay to cheat also tend to be those people who know the right kind of connections to make, the right people to backstab, et cetera. My pronouncement sounds dark, but I have come to think that such people as the LW’s boss’s boss have more sociopathic traits than average. They don’t give a rat’s patooty about screwing over other people, as long as they get what they want. He got caught cheating, and he took the way out that was best for him. I’d have expelled him, personally. Now he’s got a degree he clearly hasn’t earned, and he and his ilk insult the few of us who actually bother to do the work and get as much as we can out of the experience of college.

            I do not respect people who cheat their way through college. Such people show a huge lack of respect for learning, as well as no incentive at all for self-improvement; they also demonstrate that they are willing to take the wrong, and possibly illegal, way out of things when they don’t feel like putting in the effort. They also show that all they care about is their image, not the reality beneath that image. Ten years ago or fifty, that guy told everyone who he really was when he decided to cheat on final exams and term papers. Sure, people can change, but such fundamental change of character is rare, which is why we value it so much.

            This slimeball is another data point confirming my growing suspicion that college as it has existed since roughly the 1970s is overhyped, and in many cases worthless.

            1. Loose Seal*

              Now he’s got a degree he clearly hasn’t earned, and he and his ilk insult the few of us who actually bother to do the work and get as much as we can out of the experience of college.

              First of all, degrees aren’t earned. They are conferred by the university. A university can confer a degree on anyone they want to, even if that person did not complete the requirements for a degree. An example of this is an honorary degree. And that’s why it is correct to say “I was graduated from School,” implying the school graduated you rather than “I graduated from School, implying you graduated yourself” (although this construction is probably going to join the literally/figuratively model of language progression). So the ire you experiencing would better work toward the school rather than this boss. And…

              He got caught cheating, and he took the way out that was best for him.

              But he accepted the punishment the university offered him. Do you think they offered him a variety of punishments and this one was the best for him? Again, I’m just trying to point out that even though he did wrong and was caught, the university is responsible for the punishment that you seem to think should have been more harsh and therefore the university is the bad guy here, if there is indeed a bad guy.

              Secondly, how do you or OP know that this boss wasn’t allowed to walk across the stage for a blank piece of paper but had to retake that one class the next semester before the university officially graduated him? It’s entirely possible this person actually did eventually do the work themselves. But even if they didn’t, the fact that he has a degree is the university’s doing, not his.

      2. LadyCop*

        You would not necessarily even know the person who investigated you!!!! Most of these committees don’t even communicate directly with students, in a poor attempt to pretend they’re fair and unbiased.

      3. Whats In A Name*

        +1 here.
        Avoidance doesn’t always mean dislike. Sometimes it means embarrassment. I think approaching him cordially would go a long way here.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I would likely be angry as well, or at the very least suspicious. There are many, many reasons two people who graduated at the same time might have 2 levels between them, but knowing his history, I’d wonder if he got to his position by lying about work as well. Again, NOT saying this is what happened. But knowing the background, I would wonder.

        1. Tea*

          I think it’s interesting how many people dismiss “bad stuff you do in college” as something way in the past and ridiculous to bring up. Maybe because I’m not that far out of college myself, but I would definitely judge THE HELL out of someone who cheated extensively through their classes, and I would judge them for any other shitty things they did during that time too. Not for the not great decisions that plenty of college students make (drinking too much, partying too hard, jumping into school fountains) but stuff that warrants investigation like, oh, patterns of plagiarism, stalking, harassment, etc.? Definitely.

          I also wonder if the type of offense changes how people think about it. If a repeated pattern of cheating 10 years ago isn’t concerning, is a repeated pattern of stalking and harassment no big deal too?

          1. Loose Seal*

            It is a bit of a get-out-of-consequences card, though. There’s a reason why your juvenile criminal record doesn’t generally follow you into adulthood. People in this society recognize that young people may not make great decisions and have decided that it is not fair to that person to impact their entire life paying for a crime.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Juveniles are minors (i.e., children). People in this society have, in fact, decided that young adults can have their entire lives impacted paying for a crime; at least in the US, there is no ban on life sentences without parole or the death penalty for young adults.

      1. Rafe*

        The OP presumably knows why this person wasn’t expelled or why the university chose to put an asterisk next to his name instead of something harsher (maybe the pleading guilty played a role?). So we’re just going to let the OP, based on partial information, be righteously angry a decade later over what? Inadequate punishment the OP feels the university handed out?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I shouldn’t have said “outrage.” She said she doesn’t respect him, which I don’t think is outrageous given that she was the person to delve into the details of his cheating. That doesn’t mean she should publicly condemn him now or block him from professional advancement, but I think she’s allowed to have trouble respecting him. And if he seems to be willing to let the past color his interactions with her now that he’s in a position of authority over her, I think she’s entitled to take steps to protect herself (after confirming that’s really happening, as I said in the post).

        2. LBK*

          I’m confused by the people operating as if the OP doesn’t know the whole story. This isn’t hearsay she found out from a mutual friend or something – she sat right there on the disciplinary committee, saw the evidence and was one of the people to make the decision to discipline him. We take people’s word here on a lot more things with a lot less proof.

          1. Roscoe*

            Sure, but he got his punishment, and she still wants to hold it against him. The punishment that she was a part of. So how long is he in her dog house?

            1. Mookie*

              She’s worried about what he might do to her and her career, not about punishing him or seeking revenge. She is not acting wronged; she’s trying to determine whether he will retaliate consciously or unconsciously. What you’re insinuating from the OP’s letter is pure fiction on your part.

      2. Darkitect*

        I’d be outraged if this person is representing the company at “our alma mater’s annual college fair”. Seems kinda brazen, coming back to the scene of the crime…

    1. Jess*

      There is not a great way to do this without being THAT guy, but just so you know, it’s “rapport,” not “repore”! It’s one of those that you can hear and see and never put together that they’re the same word. :)

      1. N.J.*

        It seems you mean well, but just a heads up that the commenting gudelines **specifically** ask us not to comment on other posters’ grammar and spelling. Yeah “rapore” is the wrong spelling, but when read phonetically it is clear what this person was trying to say. I’m sure if someone had s very hard time trying to figure out what was meant, they would just ask.

        1. Relly*

          I assumed Alison was asking us not to snark or nitpick one another over minor grammatical errors. The impression I got from Jess was that she was giving bemo12 a helpful tip so she’d know for next time, which I feel is a different matter entirely. (I could be wrong, though.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Well, I’d rather people not do it at all; it’s a comment section and it’s okay to make mistakes. Jess was so nice about it though that it’s better than these corrections usually are!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      At a minimum, they could ensure that she’s not treated unfairly because of the situation, let alone pushed out over it. Example: If Bob suddenly suggests cutting the OP’s position, HR might normally defer to him. Knowing the background, they’d presumably ask a lot more questions.

    2. Juli G.*

      As someone in HR, I’m guessing it’s an awareness thing.

      And if you came to me first, I would probably give Allison’s advice about approaching him. I would not get involved just based off of lack of eye contact. You really want to try and drive this yourself without HR but I can understand wanting to have declared reservations to HR first.

      1. WorkingMom*

        I agree with AAM’s original comment about talking to this guy first. Say hello, reference the university, and try to start fresh. See how he reacts. He may very well be embarrassed and worried that you’ll tell everyone what he did in college. An effort to start new would help the OP gauge this guy’s position. If he acts weird, then go to the HR. Personally, I might approach HR from the perspective of, “I want to keep the college transgression out of this, but want you to be aware of the history here. I’m not looking to make anyone aware of what happened in the past.” Just to drive home that OP is not looking to dredge up his history with this guy, but make sure to CYA just in case.

  5. LawCat*

    Yeah, make sure it’s not just you. There was a supervisor (not mine) who never made eye contact with me in passing or acknowledged if I said “hello” or “good morning”. I discovered though that he did this with everyone. Not sure what his deal was, but it wasn’t about me. You might observe what he does with others or even ask a coworker, “Hey, have you noticed how Bob never makes eye contact?” How they respond can clue you in.

    On another level, being honest with yourself, do you think you can get past the history and work for Bob, who you’ve said you don’t respect? Would you resent working for Bob?

    (I reported someone for an ethical violation in school and it would be a cold day in hell before I’d work for her.)

  6. Wrench Turner*

    A quick Hi to the new guy will tell you all you need. If he’s cool, you’re cool, and everyone can move on. 10 years is a long time.


  7. Retail HR Guy*

    Not that it matters to OP’s situation, but The University of Bumblesplat really needs to start expelling cheaters instead of just slapping their wrists and reward their cheating by letting them graduate. Letting students get away with this crap tarnishes Bumblesplat U’s good name and thereby undermines the value of the degree that the honest students achieved. This is one of the (many) reasons that a college degree means so little nowadays.

    1. TL -*

      Oh, ouch. My college degree actually means a lot; thanks though. And without knowing the circumstances of the cheating/findings/investigations, it’s hard to know what the call should’ve been.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I think the letter makes it pretty clear that it wasn’t just minor cheating. Cheating on term papers and final exams should result in much harsher disciplinary actions than just a tiny mark on your record that no one will see.

        To Retail HR Guy’s point, there are many reasons why college degrees are less valuable than they used to be and this is just one of them. They might be intrinsically valuable to us, but comparatively, it doesn’t mean nearly as much for our job prospects as it used to a few decades ago.

          1. Observer*

            That’s not the whole story by a long shot. Grade inflation, both at the HS and college level is a MAJOR issue.

            1. TL -*

              It is – but unless you’re in a few very specific fields, GPA doesn’t really matter. The value of my college degree is quite different than the value of my GPA.

              1. Observer*

                At the beginning it matters more. But also the whole phenomenon has affected how these diplomas are looked at. So, for instance, a high school diploma stopped meaning that you knew a certain amount of math and could read and write at a certain level. And, (partly) in response, employers start asking for college degrees for jobs that don’t really need them, because the HS diploma means zero. And, when we start seeing that people can get passing grades on garbage work, we start thinking that a college diploma probably doesn’t mean more than the ability to warm a seat and do the basic 3 Rs.

            2. neverjaunty*

              I remember these exact same complaints (grade inflation, tolerance of cheating, loss of standards “nowadays”) being made when I was in college about a bazillion years ago.

              1. Observer*

                Indeed, they were. And the truth is that the process of making a college degree less valuable didn’t start last week, or last year. It’s been ongoing for many decades.

                There has also been a bit of back and forth. So you get institutions that went too much in one direction that moved in the other direction, maybe too much, etc.

          2. Jesmlet*

            And also because jobs nowadays expect you to come in trained and don’t have the time to nurture talent. You don’t get that practical training usually in college so often college degrees are just pieces of paper that demonstrate your ability to learn but not necessarily do a particular job.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      100% this. I work in higher ed and I’m always so disappointed when cheaters are allowed to get away with it. It happens much more often than most people think.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, I find it a bit outrageous that U Bumblesplat not only let him graduate with credit from the courses he cheated on (I could accept it more easily if they revoked those credits and he had to re-earn honestly), but used a “Dean’s star” to signal that he cheated.

      You know, if I saw a “Dean’s star” on someone’s transcript, absent a note explaining what it was, I would assume it was some form of _award for excellence_, that being what stars usually are. Not that companies usually look at the transcript as far as I’m aware, but if they did, it would look like a positive. That’s…frankly, ridiculous. He was given, effectively, no consequences for his actions.

      1. Bobbo*

        Yes I wondered about that too. I looked up “Dean’s star” after reading this to see if it was a common thing, and nothing came up on the first page of google results to indicate it was admonitory.

      2. JR*

        Well, maybe “Dean’s star” is the slang for it within the college, but the transcript is clearer about what happened.

      3. TL -*

        We don’t know that he graduated with those credits – he may have failed or had to retake the class(es) next semester; I could’ve graduated without taking more than half of the classes I took my senior year.

        And outside of academia, does anyone really look at the transcripts?

        1. Kyrielle*

          From the way this read, I didn’t think so – but if they did, then yes, that’s fair.

          And porbably not, as I noted in there myself. :) It just bugs me that the only clear consequence mentioned in the letter is something that, if actually recorded the way it was written here, probably won’t even look like what it really is to people not affiliated with Bumblesplat.

          None of which helps OP, actually – after 10 years, it’s time to let it go as he might be a quite different person now. Sorry for the tangent.

          1. Mike C.*

            From what was mentioned above, anything more detailed than the information given would likely be a violation of federal law.

      4. Lissa*

        It’s possible that “Dean’s star” is to what it’s actually called as Fergus is to a coworker? I mean, the OP might not have wanted to give away exactly what school it was if it has a particularly specific name. (Only mentioning because I’ve seen this brought up a few times in the thread!)

    4. Murphy*

      Yes! When I was in grad school, I was a TA for a particularly lenient professor. I caught a student BLATANTLY plagiarizing. Like stealing whole paragraphs and maybe occasionally changing a word here or there. I didn’t even make it all the way through the report before I turned it in to the professor, there was so much cheating. And she just let the girl rewrite it. She received an incomplete for the class until it was done. No consequences. I was pissed, but I had no authority, so I did nothing.

      1. Emmie*

        It was like that when I was in college too, but I’m seeing a shift now with more electronic scanning of papers (I.e. Software programs like TurnItIn) with actual citations to player used text. It makes the investigation easier and faster.

        1. Murphy*

          You have to bother investigating though, which this professor was not willing to do. (Also she couldn’t have handled that software. I could have, but I wasn’t the professor.)

      2. Charlotte Collins*

        I was an English TA/Adjunct Faculty at a university that required the students to turn in a writing portfolio their junior year. They could choose which papers went in, but they had to be academic work and (if I remember correctly) at least one had to be from a writing class. The TAs, instructors, profs would get together to read through and assess the portfolios. What I mean is that everyone gets together in a big room for a weekend and reads folders full of student writing, and there’s a lot of discussion of what is in the portfolios.

        One year they found 3 or 4 cases of file papers (basically papers that were purchased/shared, usually from a file in a Greek house) and had to investigate. (One TA read the portfolios with matching essays one right after another! But sometimes people would recognize a paper by one of their own students and realize that the other work wasn’t from the same person.) While one of the papers in each of these cases could have been a student’s legitimate work, what kind of idiot thinks it’s a good idea to include your plagiarized work in a portfolio that is going to be read at the same time as everyone else’s portfolio? Especially when you don’t know who’s going to read the portfolio.

        1. JessaB*

          A lot of people who cheat just don’t think about it. Especially in cases where a bunch of stuff is going to be read together. Heck I admit to cheating once in my school career – I forgot to do my homework and panicked and copied a friend. I had to go confess because I was the better student and she was yelled at for copying from ME. Learnt the lesson. Teacher didn’t do anything about it that time, because it was the only time, and she knew I had panic disorder and was just being STUPID in capital letters. On the other hand it was like 7th grade. It wasn’t Uni. And it taught me that I could go ask for more time and not have to have a panic attack that my school career was going to come to a swift and gruesome end if I forgot my homework one day.

        2. Loose Seal*

          This reminds me of a situation at the local university where a lot (I’m thinking 15 or 18 men) got suspended from the university for a year — they could re-apply after their year off — because they all copied/forged the same doctor’s note to excuse them from taking their finals for being ill that week. The doctor was a gynecologist.

          At least put in good effort if you’re going to cheat.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            My observation is that in general people who cheat academically either put in so much time and effort that they could have just as easily gone ahead and been honest for the same or better grade or they do it so sloppily that they can be easily caught.

    5. AW*

      I’m surprised that the school didn’t, at minimum, give him a failing grade in the class(es) he was caught cheating in. Or maybe they did and the note on the transcript was in addition to that.

    6. Karina Jameson*

      Yes, this. And I guess I’m jaded enough that I find out disappointing yet not the least bit shocking that not only he was expelled, but that he has moved high up the ladder into an upper management position. Ugh.

      1. the gold digger*

        My friend was married to a guy she discovered had lied to her about everything. He lied to her about being an orphan, he lied to her about having had cancer, he lied to her about his sexuality, and he lied to her about his college degree. He is not an orphan, he never had cancer, he prefers men, and he did not graduate from college.

        He has also lied to his employer about his college degree and is a VP. (And he has cheated a lot on his expense reports.) This is an F50 company that apparently, does not conduct background checks on people, not even picking up the phone to call the university that is in the same city where this guy works to confirm the degree.

        So yes – you can cheat and prosper. And you can be a cheater and liar for a long, long time.

      2. Marina*

        Why–do people not ever learn from previous mistakes and go forth and do better? So, by this standard, someone who sold drugs as a teenager, got caught, did time and was released should never have any opportunities to advance in life.

          1. Jen RO*

            No, but it’s an atitudine that is seeping through this entire thread. “He cheated in college, so OF COURSE he cheated his way into being 2 levels up from OP!”

            1. neverjaunty*

              No, it’s a caricature of one of the conflicting approaches that people are taking in this thread (“seeping”? Really?). It would be equally unfair to say “By this standard, if somebody was a serial murderer who stalked and killed his co-workers and got a slap on the wrist because of a technicality, you’d be totally OK with hiring him because he did his time?”

      3. Jesmlet*

        If you do your job well, this shouldn’t necessarily matter. While OP has the ethics, seems like cheater has the more valuable skill set and experience, unless they enjoy the more junior role.

    7. Jennifer*

      Expelling people means it lowers the number of graduates on official statistics, and thus makes the university look bad if they kick everyone out over a lot of things. This isn’t Pump Up The Volume.

      I once found out about someone whose advanced degree was RESCINDED after having been awarded it because they found out the student cheated (something whopping, apparently). And yet they were still told, “if you ever want to come back and complete your degree…” Seriously?!?! If anyone shouldn’t get a second chance to come back, shouldn’t it be that one? But nope.

    8. smthing*

      Zero tolerance policies increase the amount of cheating at schools; there is research to support this. With zero tolerance, students often convince professors not to report them, pleading that consequences are to harsh for a “one time” occurrence they only did because of whatever life crisis they were going through. The professor gives in, and the student repeats the behavior with the next professor.

      A more tempered approach encourages reporting and allows the Dean of Student’s office to monitor students across all their classes and to provide help to students that are actually in crisis. This is not to say that suspension or expulsion are or should be off the table, especially for repeat offenses, or that there aren’t consequences for a first offense.

    9. Valor*

      I just started a position working in a University’s Academic Integrity office. I’m building a precedent report of all the consequences we’ve assigned. In the last two years, only two students have been expelled for plagiarism, both doctoral candidates who turned in plagiarized dissertations, of all things. It does not further the educational mission of a university to dismiss all students who make a mistake, when the opportunity to teach them standards and return them to the community is available.

      I present an important example of understanding one kind of integrity is not the same as the other: . If Martin Luther King, Jr plagiarized, perhaps we can all practice a little compassion and understanding.

      On the other hand, I do agree that HR should be aware of a strained relationship between OP and the plagiarist, which I would probably phrase as “During our college years, we had an adversarial relationship because of a committee I served on.”

  8. Naomi*

    I’m unsure about the advice to be warm and friendly to Bob. Civil and professional, sure. But given the history between them, OP isn’t really happy to see Bob and they both know it. I worry that Bob will see it as disingenuous if OP greets him too warmly, or mentions knowing him in college while dancing around the primary reason they knew each other. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea for OP to acknowledge that they know each other, but I’d maybe dial down the tone from friendly to neutral.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yeah, especially after passing each other in the hall, it would be really weird to be chipper about saying hi. I’d probably say something like “Hi, since we haven’t seen each other in 10 years, I just wanted to to say that I hope we can start over and develop a professional relationship.” [stick out hand for handshake]

      Then see how it goes from there. At worst, even if he’s still an unethical jerk, once he knows you want to move on he might prefer you as an ally than an enemy, since you have dirt on him but have expressed no interest in digging up the past. (Although I suppose the worst possible result is that he’s threatened by you and sets out to sabotage you, but in that case it would have happened anyway, at least this gives you the best chance to abate that consequence.)

  9. Hannah*

    I think AAM’s advice about talking to him first is the best approach. You really can’t hold anyone accountable for what they did in college – most of us make bad decisions when we’re that age and we learn from it, including myself, who did many ridiculous and shameful things in college and I’ve had a great career since then. I would be extremely upset and embarrassed if my new coworker brought something up to HR that I regretted in college. No need to harp on something that happened so long ago even if you have strong feelings about it. Make a genuine effort to break the ice and see where that goes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I basically agree, except that I think Bob in this case — as her manager’s manager — has a responsibility to set the tone himself. He should realize that he’s in a position of power over the OP and that he’s freaking her out to the extreme by freezing her out (if in fact that’s what he’s doing and it’s not just that he has a terrible personality). Given that, I think the OP is right to think about how to protect herself.

      1. Hannah*

        I would like to give new boss the benefit of the doubt that he’s just embarrassed and non-confrontational. Hopefully it wouldn’t get to the point to where he’s jeopardizing her career. Maybe I’m too optimistic :)

          1. TLake*

            In the letter the OP specifically mentions due to their past she doesn’t respect him and feels that he shouldn’t even represent the company as a alumni at the college job fairs. It may not be him that has set the tone between the two, and he’s just reacting to her. Which in turn has led into a cold circle of silence, with the two taking the other’s example in how to handle things.
            I would be interested in seeing if her being able to acknowledge their past and moving beyond it would improve the working relationship between the two.

            1. Julia*

              If he never talks to OP, how would he know she doesn’t respect him? I doubt she’s making faces at him in the hallway.

              1. TLake*

                That’s the current situation, as I understood the letter. It could be in the beginning they had a normal work relationship, since they had to be working together at least long enough to attend 1 annual job fair usually held in spring/summer, I don’t know I’m not the OP or her boss so I don’t know how this all started.
                And you can be disrespectful without realizing it like rolling your eyes when someone speaks is something I see all the time that people aren’t even aware they doing when they disagree. Taking on a defensive stance (crossed arms, hands on hips, leaning away, or chin tilted up so you’re looking down your nose at the other person), is something you also do automatically when dealing with someone your uncomfortable with, body language is something people may instinctively pick up on without realizing it. Even the tone or your voice plays a large part, replying in with clipped words, or only answering with Yes or No doesn’t not come off as being amicable.
                But I can say from experience when you’re managing someone who brushes off any attempt on your part to be amicable, you stop trying and revert to formal civil interactions. Her boss is in the wrong for ignoring the situation and her. But when faced with someone who doesn’t acknowledge you either, being friendly is impossible, at best you can only be civil and limit interactions to a as needed basis.

    2. Juli G.*

      People should certainly be held accountable for mistakes in college! And to be fair, it sounds like he was within the college’s protocol.

      Not every mistake should follow you your entire life and I think it’s appropriate to hope/assume this guy took being caught seriously and made adjustments to his life. But just because you were 20,21,22 when something occurred doesn’t mean you’re absolved.

      1. Myrin*

        Completely agreed. I see that mentality – that people shouldn’t be held accountable for what they do/did at college – from time to time and it always makes me wonder “But why?!” in my very core. It might be because people in my country are usually slightly older when they attend/finish university than what I gather they are in the US so I might be imagining older people than what those who handwave “dumb college kid” behaviour do but I still stand by my disagreement with that mindset. I’m 25 and coincidentally received my master’s certificate today, meaning my university time as a student is over only now – does that mean I can’t be held accountable for anything I did up until now?

    3. the gold digger*

      You really can’t hold anyone accountable for what they did in college – most of us make bad decisions when we’re that age and we learn from it

      There is a big difference between drinking too much, skipping class, and showing up late for your waitress job and cheating so badly that you are investigated. By the time you are in college, you know right from wrong.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Yes, I completely agree. It reflects on your intrinsic character, it’s wrong rather than just irresponsible.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Agreed. Irresponsible is one thing. Deliberate unethical behavior is entirely another, and I absolutely would hold someone accountable for that, until they clearly demonstrated to me that they have changed.

        1. Observer*

          At 22, you are an adult. And, as an adult, you most definitely CAN and SHOULD be held accountable for what you do, especially when it is a clear ethical violation.

        2. neverjaunty*

          At what age is it OK to hold people responsible for the consequences of their bad decisions? What’s the cutoff?

        3. fposte*

          Knowing right from wrong doesn’t mean you won’t make a bad decision at any age. There’s nothing special about 22.

    4. School for x-men graduate*

      I’m sorry, I would really strongly disagree with your statement that no one should be held accountable for what they do in college. I realize that for some people, college feels like the straddle between being a kid and adult life, but the idea that you should have a four year free-for-all with no accountability is kind of…not good. I made crazy mistakes in college, but I was held accountable for them and it taught me a lesson for the real world. The other problem that you run into is that where do you draw the line? What poor choice in college should you be held accountable for and when does it veer nto something that you should be punished for? Who decides that? I’m not saying that you should be tagged with a scarlet letter and shunned from any job for life, but it should be something worse than a confusing “dean’s star”. The bottom line is, if one cheats in college, one should have to repeat the class. Then there is a time consequence, and a financial consequence. And the college has a satisfaction of knowing that you graduated after actually learning the information.

      1. TL -*

        I think that people’s behavior shouldn’t be held against them after college. Lots of people do dumb things when they’re young, suffer the consequences, and learn/move on. They shouldn’t be held accountable for it for years and years and years once the consequence is over.

        That’s what people mean, generally, when they say college shouldn’t count. Not that a person shouldn’t get caught and punished, but that your actions shouldn’t unduly impact the rest of your life.

        1. Observer*

          Why? And where does that end? Also, “dumb things” are one thing, but ethical violations are another. By the time you are in college you should know that lying and cheating are wrong. What makes anyone think that graduating college will cause someone to stop doing things that they know are wrong?

          Also, talk about slippery slopes. You may not care that someone is a liar and cheats. But, do you think that assault should ALSO not be held against someone?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I do think stuff is on a spectrum to some extent. I’d absolutely not hire Brock Turner 50 years from now. I would not have similar qualms about someone who cheated on a test decades earlier.

            1. voyager1*

              I would not hire someone if the cheating got to the point as the manager the OP is dealing with. Maybe the manager learned their lesson or maybe of times get tough or the situation they will “cheat” again. Wouldn’t want to open up my employer to that.

            2. Observer*

              Sure. But it has nothing to do with college or even being young. It has to do with how bad the item was and, depending on the severity of the issue, how long it’s been since the person did whatever. Cheating on “A” test would be one thing, cheating on multiple major tests / assignments is much worse.

              I think your Brock Turner example fits in with this whole discussion. I think that a lot of what disgusted people, beyond the normal disgust for what he did, was the fact that his father was essentially making the argument that “we shouldn’t hold the things that people do in college against them after college.”

              The issue of hiring someone with a DUI on his (or her) record has been discussed here. I think that the same thing applies – whether it should affect someone’s prospects, and for how long are an interesting question, but it has zero to do with whether the person was in college, and very little to do with what age they were when it happened (assuming adulthood.)

            3. (Another) B*

              Yes! I was going to make the same comparison. Absolutely some people can change, but people with terrible character will show their values time and time again.

        2. AnonEMoose*

          I think that being held accountable for some things is actually part of the consequences. Would you be arguing that a person convicted of sexual assault, or for getting drunk and beating someone else up, shouldn’t be held accountable – if they did it while they were in college? Sometimes, there’s the immediate consequence of jail time, or an investigation for academic dishonesty, or whatever, followed by the long-term, real world consequence. And I do believe that repeated academic dishonesty is a reflection on someone’s character, just as the decision to assault someone is. Relative seriousness is a different issue – but it still speaks to the character.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s a mistake to consider “accountable” the same as “never looking past it,” though. People can be accountable for their actions without those actions being held against them for the rest of their lives.

          2. TL -*

            He did suffer real world consequences – hence the whole committee the OP was a part of. Maybe they weren’t harsh enough for the punishment but they were still consequences.

            Same with someone who had assaulted someone or whatever- I’m not saying they get a pass and don’t have to serve time or face convictions or whatever, but they can serve their time/do their punishment and be done with it. It doesn’t mean that they’re that person for the rest of their lives, especially if they were young while they did it. Now, if he talks about it afterwards and he’s like, “Cheating is no big deal, I don’t see why there was such a fuss,” or if you find evidence that he’s cheating or lying or whatever that’s definite proof that he hasn’t change (and the bar for proof would be lower for him than someone else).

          3. neverjaunty*

            Let’s face it, there’s also a serious layer of classism in the whole “….as a college student” thing. If we were describing a 22-year-old homeless man or 7-11 clerk or day laborer committing an act of blatant and serious dishonesty, people would be a lot less willing to rush in and call it a youthful indiscretion that he clearly learned from.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, college is sort of a cultural mulligan. It’s a nice perk, but it’s a luxury a lot of people don’t have. (Youngest commercial airline pilot was 19, btw. I doubt he’s getting much indulgence for his mistakes.)

      2. Sans*

        Sure, he should have gotten a tougher consequence. But he didn’t, and that’s that. It’s 10 years ago. Who gets to be the person who judges whether he has paid his dues or not? The OP who hasn’t seen him in 10 years and has no idea what he’s like these days?

        He cheated. It was wrong. He got off easy. But as you say, he shouldn’t be tagged with a scarlet letter and shunned for any job for life. So really, any future judgments should be based on how he’s acting NOW. It’s just like people who get out of jail and can’t get a job. It may be understandable that people hesitate to hire an ex-con, but what’s the ex-con to do? Doesn’t (almost) everyone deserve a second chance?

        1. fposte*

          I’m reminded of the really interesting recent NPR story about how people judge parenting actions, and that people would consider actions more destructive to children if they didn’t approve of the reasons for the actions. I wonder if people are keener to hold this against him now *because* his punishment seems so light–it seems like people feel he hasn’t paid his dues yet.

          1. neverjaunty*

            The more relevant question is “a second chance from whom”?

            Nobody is saying this dude should be fired or suffer imaginary dramatic consequences like wearing a scarlet letter. But I’m a little taken aback at the idea that OP owes this guy a change of opinion about him, or that as a matter of course people are allowed to demand that others give them a second chance.

            OP really is allowed to decide that this guy is a douchecanoe. That’s not her question. The question is how to deal with the fact that he is making it weird.

            1. fposte*

              I think that’s about where I fall. I don’t have to change my private thoughts about anybody, regardless of the reason; ultimately it really doesn’t matter if the OP is still down on a co-worker after a pen-stealing incident from second grade, so long as she can work civilly with the Bic miscreant. It’s not about whether her distaste for him is reasonable or not.

              I think where “reasonable” comes into play is when you’re asking your employer to take action based on your view of somebody (in hiring, for instance, there are some old offenses worth raising and some not). But in this case, it’s not just on her view, it’s on the guy’s current behavior. I like the suggestions upthread for talking to the guy directly first, because that’s going to be a lot less delicate a conversation to negotiate than talking to a third person.

    5. mazzy*

      This is so ridiculous. I’m seeing some commenters who railed against millenial stereotypes a few months ago now saying your college years are basically a continuation of childhood where you shouldn’t face consequences for your actions.

      You do realize that that train of thought is why millenial bashing articles abound on the Internet, right? I mean, how do you expect older generations to see you as equals when you feel entitled to a get out of jail free card at 22?

      1. Loose Seal*

        Believe me, the previous generations also gave latitude to college students’ misdeeds and indiscretions. It’s just that there wasn’t the internet around then to make sure that the stupid thing we did was immortalized for all to see and pass judgment on.

  10. AW*

    Fingers and toes crossed that when the OP does have the “it was 10 years ago and I just don’t want it to be weird” convo with the manager, the manager just has a sigh of relief. I can definitely imagine the manager writing to AAM asking how to deal with this awkwardness, especially if they’re not sure the OP remembers them or not.

    I don’t respect this person for a variety of reasons, but mostly because he cheated in college…

    So I suspect that you’re going to get a lot of comments saying you should forgive/let it go/not care/etc. I don’t think you have to do that but I do think you shouldn’t hold it against him at work. If you don’t want weirdness from him you’re going to have to also treat him neutrally.

      1. Marty Gentillon*

        Not necessarily not care, but give him the benefit of the doubt. Assume that he is a changed man (if has been ten years, I guarantee you he has changed), and not let his past actions affect you current relationship without evidence of his continued malfeasance. Everyone screws up somehow, and everyone deserves a second chance.

  11. animaniactoo*

    For me, personally, I would find not acknowledging the awkward and pretending it doesn’t exist even more awkward. Particularly if I were the one who had done something wrong (and I’ve been in that position).

    Towards that I would have a conversation with him that started out more along the lines of “I know the last time we saw each other wasn’t the best of circumstances, but I know that I’ve lived and learned and changed a lot since college and I assume you have too. I hope that you’ll do well here in your role as Chocolate Teapots Director, and if you have any questions about the Handle Design Department, I’d be happy to fill you in on what I know.” and create an easy out for leaving “I’m on my way to a meeting now, but I just wanted to stop in and say hi. Feel free to call or email me to follow up if you have any questions.” or some such.

    Essentially, the message is “Hoo Boy this is awkward, and you know it and I know it, but what I *really* want you to know is that I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and I’m not going to try to sabotage you here and as proof of that, this is me here speaking in a professional way and working to establish a business relationship with you.”

    1. CG*

      I really like this language, except I wouldn’t necessarily bring up bad circumstances – if he remembers the OP, then they’re definitely implied. Maybe just say “I know the last time we saw each other was in college, but I’ve lived and learned…” instead.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I tend to be in favor of calling a spade a spade, and getting it out of the way, but to each their own. I generally don’t do well with “polite fiction”, but I understand that it works well for others.

  12. TL -*

    Certainly you can’t forget about his past wrongdoings, but try to start the relationship with him with the understanding that you only have one piece of information about him and that piece is quite old. Be open to the possibility that he is a very different person now. That piece of information is important but it’s not definitive.

    1. Willis*

      Agreed. Unless the OP has more negative information about Bob over the last 10 years (she does mention “a variety of reasons” not to respect him), I’d try to keep an open mind and do my part to have a positive working relationship with him.

  13. Dot Warner*

    OP, it’s plausible that Bob is avoiding you because he’s embarrassed about his past behavior. As Alison said, 10 years is a really long time and (hopefully) he’s grown up a lot since then. I’m ashamed of a lot of dumb things I did in college and high school, and if I ran into people who witnessed those dumb things, I’d probably avoid them and/or be worried that they still think I’m the gigantic jerk that I was back then. Maybe if you go talk to him and reassure him that it’s all whiskey under the bridge (because it should be after 10 years), he’ll relax a little.

  14. KK*

    My guess is that he remembers, he embarrassed & ashamed of having to work with someone who is a daily reminder of his mistakes and would rather just pretend OP doesn’t exist until he has to. I’m just sensing some social awkwardness over malice.

    1. Lauren*

      And if that is the case then all the more reason for the OP to go to HR and protect herself from possible future backstabbing. Having read and re-read the original question I believe that this guy will retaliate in time. This is not the time to lay an open field that the guy can use for good or bad. If anyone suffers from this, it will be the OP.

      1. Lauren*

        This is the sentence to which I was referring: My guess is that he remembers, he embarrassed & ashamed of having to work with someone who is a daily reminder of his mistakes and would rather just pretend OP doesn’t exist until he has to.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        What led you to think he’d retaliate? I may have missed something glaring, but it looks like outside of avoidance he hasn’t directly done anything to affect her work or standing at work to this point.

        I think it’s *possible* he is embarrassed, ashamed and unsure of what to do. Not necessarily that he’s ashamed, embarrassed and has plan to blackball her from the company.

  15. AthenaC*

    I wonder if something I dealt with might help you –

    When I was a junior in high school, I was good friends with “Artemis.” We would sit together in English, carpool together to tennis practice, and we even worked together to audition for the annual talent show (she sang, I accompanied on the piano). Then one day, Artemis got friendly with “Hera”, who had been ignoring me since freshman year. And then Artemis suddenly started ignoring me, too. Both Artemis and Hera continued to ignore me for the rest of high school. At this point, I had long since given up figuring out what Hera’s deal was, but Artemis suddenly ignoring me really stung. We were good friends! Or so I thought.

    Anyway, at our ten-year reunion, I run into Artemis and her husband. And I pretended the junior-year freeze-out had never happened. I lit up like a Christmas tree – “Hi!! How are you! It’s been so long – what have you been up to?” She froze and smiled awkwardly, said hello, introduced me to her husband, and then visibly significantly relaxed when her husband and I started goodnaturedly trading public accounting stories. Then she and I caught each other up on jobs, kids, where we were living, and other ordinary things. I’m not sure, but I think Artemis and I hugged goodbye.


    I’m wondering if perhaps Bob is looking for an excuse to pretend that your shared history didn’t happen. I don’t think any good will come of bringing it up, since he presumably has more relevant history, as Alison said. I wonder what would happen if you proactively said, “Hi, Bob! Great to see you again! How have you been?” as if the unpleasant history didn’t exist. His reaction will tell you whether or not you actually have a problem. But I’m crossing my fingers for you and hoping you don’t.

  16. mazzy*

    Related story – when I did a job that was more related to sales, my boss became the person from a competitor that all of my customers were leaving because he mishandled their accounts. So now he would be handling their accounts again. He was the type who looked good on paper but was a different story in real life. Obviously I got out of there in record time. It was a bad judgement call from the powers that be and I couldn’t work for someone who was bad at what he did and pres

    1. JessaB*

      Yeh but that’s different than this OP. That I’d discuss with HR/Higher management. That’s something that’s directly relevant to job performance in your company. Something 10 years old that was settled 10 years ago, not necessarily as much.

  17. CG*

    I wish I had had this post at my last job when one of my profs from undergrad (who had been unceremoniously dumped with cause at the end of the semester I had him) got a position with my employer, and everyone kept asking me throughout the interview process and after he started if I knew him/had any opinions of him.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      What did you say? I think that when someone’s been hired, it’s a done deal, but if you have info that would show whether he was a good candidate, you should share what you legally can.

      (I once gave my honest opinion about a candidate for a store manager position when asked, and it wasn’t flattering to her. I had met her one or two times and didn’t think she would be a culture fit – it was a specialty retail store and she seemed very odd and unfriendly. I know I can seem odd, but I know how to behave in a retail environment. They ignored my advice as a lowly PT employee. She ended up being fired a couple months after I left, and it turned out that she had gotten glowing reviews from her previous employer because they were trying to get rid of her.)

  18. Marlie*

    I think the OP really needs to get over what happened in college. It has been a DECADE. At least give it time to see if he is a good boss and has grown since that experience in college. Who is the same person as they were in college that long ago? I know I’m not!

    1. Ellie H.*

      Cheating is much more serious than that, it’s not just about not being the same person or less mature. This person was 21 or 22 when the cheating/investigation happened, plenty of people have been in the work force for several years, are parents, etc. at that age. I’m very different too and way more mature than I was in college but academic dishonesty is a next level thing. Knowing the difference between right and wrong isn’t something you “need to get over.”

      1. Mike C.*

        Which is likely why they confessed and suffered the consequences. People seem to keep forgetting this and expecting that the punishment should last a lifetime.

        1. Willis*

          Yes. Plus, what options does the OP really have other than to move forward and try to work with this guy? It seems pretty unlikely the company would let their new hire go if OP divulged the information, which it sounds like she couldn’t do anyway due to confidentiality requirements. She has this piece of information about his character, but it doesn’t mean she can’t or shouldn’t factor in the new information she’ll learn about him now.

        2. Marina*

          Exactly. Some commenters are acting as if what he did was worse than armed robbery. I wonder how they all feel about working with convicted felons.

        3. Whats In A Name*

          Exactly. I think the focus needs to get off the cheating and onto the present. Go sit down, say hello, say “I hate it’s awkward” and focus on fixing the present issue.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Yeah, this. And given that the OP served on that particular board, I’m guessing she has strong feelings about the issue of academic dishonesty. Especially when it’s repeated and on a serious scale, it’s more than a minor thing.

      3. TL -*

        I mean, at that age my dad was getting a (deserved) felony conviction and being sent to federal prison. I think – as some who was born a good 10+ years later and never knew him as a criminal – he’s a good person who generally tries to do the right thing. I’d hate for someone to judge him solely or even primarily on the 4-6 years of his life that landed him in prison – but he made a series of decisions that were much, much worse than academic dishonesty.

        People change.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I can speak to this. At around that same age, a family member I’ll call Xander had experienced a bunch of crap that required him to grow up fast (despite our best intervention, he didn’t). Xander pretty much lost control of things and made a really stupid choice to go along with a friend on something bad. He ended up in prison, while the friend got off with a wrist slap.

          Xander did his time, followed the rules of his parole to the letter, and is a completely together person now. Spoiler: he grew up. He even forgave the friend, though I will never ever talk to that guy again in life ever. He’s definitely a better person than I am.

          He has a felony record now, and it will follow him around for the rest of his life. But he has a great job and a family and is very much a functioning, contributing member of society. He’s proof positive that people can and do pry their heads out of their butts after making a grievous mistake.

    2. Lauren*

      Who is the same person as they were in college that long ago? I know I’m not!
      Our choices may be different but our ethics and values probably don’t change much over our lifetime. If you easily cheat, especially repeatedly, you aren’t changing your stripes just because you have a few more gray hairs and no longer chug beers.

      1. BPT*

        Really? People’s ethics and values don’t change? That’s not my experience at all. I was raised in a home that taught that sex before marriage was a sin. And I believed that for a long time. Thankfully, my values changed as I got older and learned new information. People do change their political views. My parents have gotten increasingly more liberal as well as they’ve gotten older because they take in new information as they get it.

        And there are degrees. If you drive one mile over the speed limit, you’re cheating the law. Should someone be kept from any job in the future because they are cheating doing that? If you ever cross a crosswalk before the light actually turns, even if there are no cars coming, you’re breaking the law. Should that disqualify you from ever having a job? What about house sitting for a friend where they pay you a couple of hundred dollars and you don’t report that on your taxes?

        People cheat in ways all the time. Yes, some are more extreme than others. But people are acting like this guy could not have possibly reformed his ways and stopped cheating. He got a punishment. (Whether you think that punishment was enough or not is irrelevant). There is nothing to suggest that he has made is career on further cheating.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          You probably won’t even see this, but I wish I had seen this response yesterday. Wise my friend, wise.

          I mean, I spent money like a wild woman in my early 20s, had boatloads of credit card debt and didn’t want to be held accountable, drank excessively, drove drunk regularly. Anyone who knows me now has a really really hard time believing a spend thrift traditionalist who never has more than 2 drinks at a party could have ever been such a fu@k up

      2. De*

        My ethics and values have changed a lot, especially since college. Coming into contact with a bigger variety of people will do that.

    3. Darkitect*

      But he is representing the company at college functions, and I think it’s completely reasonable for OP to be annoyed about it. If I had been “dishonorably” graduated from that school, I’d be too ashamed to ever advertise my association, let alone revisit it on regular occasion.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, that’s fair to be annoyed about. I’m sure some of his professors are still there too – super awkward to run into them.

        If he’s the only graduate available from that college, I can see why the company asked him (and I can see why he didn’t say no, too) but still…super awkward and highly likely to backfire on the company anyways.

    4. Temperance*

      It would really burn my biscuits to see that a person I know had done something immoral to get ahead … succeed in life ahead of me. It would show me that cheating paid off, and that sucks.

      1. Marina*

        Maybe that person learned a hard lesson that you have not had to learn. Being very jealous of another’s success seems to me to be an unfortunate character flaw.

  19. Canty*

    I would go to HR but leave all the details out of it… no matter how you place emphasis you are telling them he cheated in college, which will probably be relayed to him.

    For HR I would just explain that you want them aware that you went to college together and there was a situation that may have left you both with negative feelings about the other (don’t put it all on him because you clearly have personal feelings on the matter that could impact your working relationship). This is no different than if you had been friends and there was a fight over something he did, him cheating in college should not follow him into the workplace 10 years later when he may have changed his ideals.

    It could even help to go to him and be sensitive about this – clearing the air with “This is in the past, it’ll stay in the past. Lets both be professional and forget it ever happened.”

    There is no indication that this is even an issue for him – more of an issue from you because you are angry about him cheating and succeeding afterwards. There is a chance he doesn’t even realize it was you… I can only imagine the tension if he was called into HR and blindsided that you told them he cheated in college and feel he’s ignoring you. It could really make a mountain out of a molehill for your working relationship.

  20. Mike*

    I did things at college age that are still embarrassing and shameful. They are lessons that I have taken, learned from, and have greatly changed who I am and how I behave. I would hope that those who know those details can look with compassion and see past my mistakes of that age and see what I’ve done since then. I hope the OP can do the same for this person.

    1. Dot Warner*

      Exactly. A lot of people are acting like Bob isn’t remorseful, learned nothing from the experience, and is still lying and cheating his way to the top. It’s entirely possible that’s the case, but it’s also possible that Bob has genuinely repented of his misdeeds and been an upstanding person for years now. We have no way to know which is true, so let’s give Bob the benefit of the doubt.

      FWIW, I agree that the way Bob’s case was handled 10 years ago was wrong, but… it was 10 years ago. Nothing can be done about it now.

    2. Temperance*

      This person is 2 steps ahead of LW on the ladder, though. Maybe I’m petty, but that would greatly annoy me and show me that doing things the honest way doesn’t benefit you.

      There is a difference between embarrassing and shameful things and doing something, repeatedly, that is a serious violation of basic integrity.

      1. Mike C.*

        You cannot account for the ten years after college and before now. They could have easily worked much, much harder than the OP to make it that far.

        1. fposte*

          And, as noted upthread, people don’t necessarily cheat because they wouldn’t otherwise succeed; it’s not proof he’s a lesser talent.

        2. JustaTech*

          Worked harder, been a better negotiator, was in the right place at the right time, was better at networking, knows more of the right people, etc etc.
          Or was on a different career track that is more management-based.
          I wouldn’t assume malfeasance.
          (I know lots of people from college who are way ahead of me on their careers because they went into different industries and got in early on a fast moving company. I also know equally smart good people from college who still work two or three part time jobs. different paths to different places.)

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yeah, this. Listen, I would be annoyed, too, because I’m super competitive. But career progression isn’t always a straight line – it’s not like Bob “cut” in front of the OP. He didn’t even work for the OP’s company before taking on the role he is in now! Maybe he learned his lesson and has done everything honestly since then, and just happened to make career choices that prepared him for the management role more quickly.

          2. Loose Seal*

            Been a man while OP remained a woman.
            Been white while OP is a POC.
            Been attractive while OP is neutral-looking at best.
            Been extroverted while OP is introverted.
            Been thin and “fit” while OP is heavy.
            Been related to someone “important” while OP is no one special.

            There are lots of reasons beyond this boss’s behavior that might have resulted in putting him two levels above OP that have nothing to do with his skills, training, or education.

            (We don’t know if any of the above is true in this case but all of those things have the potential to leap-frog someone over a peer.)

      2. cbackson*

        But we don’t know why he’s two steps ahead. Maybe getting caught was a serious wake-up call for him, and he’s worked hard and been honest ever since.

  21. boop*

    But isn’t OP the one who, despite the fact that it happened so long ago and they aren’t even really the same people anymore, admits that he/she feels no respect for this person? Maybe he’s waiting for you to indicate that everything isn’t falling apart at the seams? It doesn’t sound like you want to know or work with this person, and he’s probably just responding to that.

    Why not… treat him like you treat everyone else? Include him in conversation? Tell him flat out that you want to put your history behind you? Anything other than sending eye daggers across the hall and thinking about how dishonorable he is (I’m sure your poker face isn’t as convincing as you hope)?

  22. Jady*

    Maybe it’s just my personality, but I’d just hit this one directly.

    ‘Hey, I feel a little awkward and just wanted to clean the air so we’re on the same page about what happened back in college, if you even remember me from there. But I think college is behind us both, we’ve all changed and grown since then, and I hope there’s no ill-will or grudges between us. I’d love for us to start on a clean slate, whaddya say?’

    And then just never mention it again.

  23. Employment Lawyer*

    The problem is with you, not him.

    He did the crime and did the time: he got whatever the penalty was, as set by your college. He’s moved on with his life and you have no particular reason to believe he is the same person he was when he was in college–are you? He’s no different than someone who served a misdemeanor sentence, or who lost a case.

    He’s probably ignoring you because as you said, YOU have personally been holding a grudge against him for the last decade: “I don’t respect this person for a variety of reasons, but mostly because he cheated in college…. He also continues to represent our company at our alma mater’s annual college fair, which also feels wrong to me…” Based on your post, I doubt you hide it very well.

    Get over him; make it clear through your actions that you’re over it; and make it clear to him. Then move on. Otherwise this is you being an asshole. Which, sorry to say, is how it seems to me: you’ve obviously been resenting this guy for a decade, you obviously think it’s your job to care; you obviously think he has not been sufficiently punished. I think you’re just trying to find a reason to mention his college issues to HR. Don’t be that person.

    1. Darkitect*

      But you don’t think it’s weird at all that this guy is representing his company at this school? What does it say about him that he’s willing to return over and over again, despite nearly being expelled? I would be too ashamed to ever show my face there.

      1. Dina*

        To me, it says that he’s willing to acknowledge that although he messed up he respects the process that the university had and he thinks they dealt fairly with him (although the OP thinks he got off easily). Similarly, there isn’t anything in the OP’s letter to mention being nearly expelled.

        The question is more why the University values his experience in admissions, not why he supports them after he got a ruling.

          1. Jen RO*

            Uh… do you mean the coworker is a sociopath because he cheated in college and represents the company at said college? What?

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Eh.. I’m not putting a lot of stock in this. Since he went to the school, his peers/managers might have asked him to go recruit there. It would be weird to refuse to go back *ever* without giving a reason.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Don’t call the letter write an asshole.

      And the OP has every right to not respect a cheater, regardless of how much time has passed. Respect isn’t a default thing. It’s earned.

    3. Dina*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this. OP, I had some shit happen to me in high school. I held a grudge for 12ish years, and then I started teaching high school. Suddenly I saw how developmentally immature all the kids were, no matter how much of an adult the think they are, and was able to let go of my grudge.

      It’s been ten years. I can understand why you might think “once a cheater always a cheater”, but honestly, if his work is solid now with zero evidence of appropriation… I would move on.

    4. anonderella*

      Holy aggressive comment, Batman – have you been commissioned as the Ex-Cheater’s lawyer?

      I get that you’re making an argument for the sake of seeing reason from the other side, but you place a whole lot of stock in assuming that this guy has, in fact, changed and moved on with his life, and a *crazy* amount of aggression toward the OP for trying to analyze her feelings/a problematic situation at work. You keep repeating that OP has been resenting this person for a decade – as if OP has been actively, continuously resenting this person for ten years. If that were so, the angle of this letter would have taken on more of a tone of ‘How can I remove this person from their position?’ rather than ‘This higher-level person is avoiding me; avoiding me could be a sign of perceived bad blood between us (which, the Ex-Cheater wouldn’t be completely wrong as their past behavior made OP lose respect for them after that), and I’m afraid this could result in retaliation against me. How do I protect myself?’ It is totally reasonable to be worried that a past incident could flavor her *manager’s* perspective, leading to a result that would be difficult (or impossible, considering the legal implications others have brought up) to explain. Again, emphasis on *manager* : this person isn’t concerned about a coworker/peer, but someone who she has to *report to* (!) and keep happy. This guy could have not changed at all, (BTW, HE’S the one I’d be worried about harboring resentment!) and start making movements to get OP terminated, or at least make her job harder, just because he can.

      Also, maybe don’t insinuate that letter-writers are being assholes, when they are writing in for advice? It’s incredibly rude, and as I’ve seen many well-worded comments you’ve made before, I’m sure you can do better. Take your own advice : “Don’t be that person.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hey, wait, please don’t tell people to go away either. (I mean, I may occasionally tell someone that, but I’d like to reserve that ability for myself.)

    5. vanBOOM*

      Wow. It’s unreasonable for someone who contributed to someone else’s punishment in the past to now be concerned about possible retaliation from that now more powerful person, but totally fine to call the OP an asshole?

      It sounds like you have some weird hang-ups you need to work through.

  24. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    I think there’s a good possibility that he doesn’t even know who the letter writer is. By 10 years out, I didn’t always recognize people that I went to a small high school with (and spent the entire 4 years in classes/extracuriculars with them). I can’t imagine that I’d remember someone from college that I wouldn’t have been in as close proximity to, even under such memorable circumstances. Faces fade from memory over time and names slip away.

  25. JustaTech*

    I’m just amazed that Bob goes to the college job fair. If he’s willing to go back there and see the faculty that all know his story, why is he being cold and weird to the OP?

    1. Loose Seal*

      How many people there are likely to know? His academic advisor, maybe, and the faculty person in whose class he cheated. The Dean of Students, maybe, if they personally gave out the “Dean’s Star” and reviewed the case at the time. It’s not like the university would have sent out this information in a faculty/staff newsletter. It’s possible everyone involved at the time are no longer even at that university and even if they are, are they really likely to remember this student after ten years have passed?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Well, I’m extrapolating here, but he may indeed remember her from the committee. And if she isn’t doing anything to hide her disapproval of him, he may be embarrassed or afraid she’s going to drag out an old skeleton he thought was buried and wag it in everybody’s face.

      Unless she actually talks to him, however, and comes back and updates us, we’re not gonna know why.

  26. throwaway*

    I think you should just do your best to pretend this didn’t happen.

    That said, I feel the focus on grades and intense competition in college, and in high school to get IN, leads to cheating. Plus, if you are just terrible at one subject, you don’t want that one alone to negatively influence your future. And there’s parental pressure.

    I have been commenting here a while, and have a good professional job. That said, I have cheated in math off and on since upper elementary school. When tested and not graded, I fail math but pass other sorts of tests perfectly. So I am smart enough to have my education and work on my own. I just could not have passed math in college without messing up my GPA for grad school, without cheating. And, since childhood, my mom, and abusive tiger parent, would scream at, socially isolate, take away all privileges from me, and compare me to my engineering-brain brother for anything under an A- in math. The best I can do in math on my own (I’ve tried), is a D. Which is a disaster to a straight A student and bad for colleges and grad school.

    So, while it’s wrong to cheat and your boss’s boss is sleazy, there’s something wrong with our academic culture, too. Feel free to pile on me now, ha ha.

    1. C Average*

      What made you decide to start cheating? Did you see someone else do it and think, “Oh, I could get away with that, too?” Did someone subtly suggest that you cheat? (It happens.) Does it bother you at all that it became a pattern? You seem to be okay with misrepresenting your capabilities to your teachers and employers. That’s something I just can’t fathom.

      I don’t know how to feel about an admission like yours. I’m also bad at math. In fact, I have a learning disability that wasn’t diagnosed until I was nearly 40, and one of my major deficits is in math. My diagnosis explained so much about why I struggled so badly in algebra, despite a lot of effort.

      Cheating literally never occurred to me, nor did blaming my difficulties on the academic culture. I had a deficit. I recognized and accepted it. It limited what I could reasonably expect to study in college, which in turn limited the types and numbers of career open to me. It has limited my earning capacity. It has limited the amount of respect I receive from STEM snobs. I don’t like any of this, but it feels fair to me that I own my limits and their consequences. The only consequence of my limited math ability that really, truly troubles me is the fact that I can’t effectively help my stepkids with their schoolwork. (I have tried a few times, but worry that I’m revealing my too-obvious math anxiety to them. They are both strong math students, and I don’t want to impede that in any way.)

      I guess I’m piling on, because I can’t tell you I think what you did is OK.

      1. animaniactoo*

        From what you describe, it sounds like being bad at math meant that some paths weren’t open to you. Not that it meant that you suffered severe negative consequences for it in your day-to-day life. I think there’s a difference in those two spaces.

        1. C Average*

          I disappointed my parents and teachers, and was accused of being lazy and stupid. I was told (truthfully, as far as I can tell) that I’d struggle to earn a decent living if I pursued a career in the areas where I did have an aptitude. I was told to try harder, and had privileges taken away when I failed to earn grades my parents deemed acceptable.

          But I didn’t jump to “oh, I should just cheat” as a solution. I tried harder and managed to eke out Cs in required courses. I spent a lot of time feeling sad and helpless. I worried and cried and wore black and listened to depressing music. I took extracurriculars that bored me so that I’d have something on my college applications to counterbalance my craptastic math abilities. It never occurred to me, literally never, to cheat. I am honestly interested in the thought process that led throwaway to cheating as the solution to his/her academic dilemma.

          1. throwaway*

            Well, I did try to get help with my math, from parents, teachers, tutors, anyone. It did not help. And even when I sought extra help, I was still abusively punished for not being able to get the grades. I mean, at times literally hit.

            Then, in 6th grade, there was a way of grading papers (were allowed to grade each other’s and then record our scores ourselves), which made it as easy as the stroke of a pen. Imagine. Just do that, and no more abuse, or isolation from all friends via not being allowed to do anything but study.

            1. C Average*

              Wow. Just trying to imagine doing something like that makes my heart pound even now, thirty years past sixth grade. Looking back, I suppose cheating was all around me, and maybe I was just naive to it. I lied to my peers about dumb things (like having a boyfriend from out of town, or having an expensive possession) in an effort to impress them, but cheating at school was just never in my universe of possibilities. We did the grading-each-other’s-papers thing, too.

              Did you worry about being caught? I think I would’ve lived in terror of being found out.

              1. Observer*

                I don’t think it ever occurred to me to cheat on the things I did poorly on, either, but your last line helps explain why Throwaway would choose to cheat.

                It strikes me that the POSSIBILITY of being found out might have seemed a far better issue to deal with than the CERTAINTY of abuse that throwaway encountered. And, to be clear, what throwaway encountered was far different that just disappointing people and even being called lazy.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Wow, that sucks. I’m sorry you went through that. I was abused by the teachers, not my parents (called names, shamed in class, etc.). That was awful enough. To this day, I still have severe anxiety about writing on a whiteboard (blackboard when I was a kid) in front of people, even if I know what I’m talking about.

              And sadly, many paths are truly not open to me. I chose not to cheat–it would have been impossible to get away with it due to the severity of my LD and the attention it got in school–but I can totally understand why you did.

      2. The Strand*

        Oh yes, C Average, you said this so eloquently. Many, many people I work with did better in algebra and chemistry than I did, and it did limit my opportunities. That said, it was a wake up call for me to consider different fields that I was better at. Though it was humiliating to struggle so much – I never considered cheating, even though my first generation father let me know constantly that my lower science and math grades were unacceptable. I also had a sibling who made it into the Ivy League who I was constantly compared to, though I think she really got the full-on “Tiger” treatment.

        I sympathize so much with people who suffer from math anxiety (which I definitely had) and test anxiety (best friend suffers to the point of puking), but cheating doesn’t resolve the problem, it only postpones it. When it came to the GRE, I buckled down and studied college math for three months straight, and while I won’t be winning any math prizes or discovering Top Quark any time soon, it was adequate for grad school. My best friend got over her test anxiety to make it into grad school, too.

        What’s inappropriate is the idea that you have to be the best at everything, rather than honestly looking at your strengths and weaknesses, and while I can’t completely reject a child or teenager reacting to a ridiculous parent the best they can, once you’re an adult, it’s a new ball game.

        I agree that some assessments are total bullshit and unnecessary. But I have a huge problem with someone who cheated on a core subject in their field, when their inability should be signaling a career choice. Even my “Tiger” dad would agree: he changed fields because a physical disability meant he could never work in his chosen physical science field.

        1. throwaway*

          I see your point, but math is not key for me- I just needed a graduate degree to do this work, and would not have gotten into my school with awful grades throughout in even one subject. The sort of math I can’t do is completely unnecessary.

          I’m not defending my actions, merely pointing out I’m still good at my job.

      3. Jen RO*

        I know I’m not the OP, but some answers. (With the usual disclaimer that I’m not from the US.)

        In school, *everyone* cheated. I don’t think I know more than 5 people who never cheated on any test in their whole life. So it was easy to get started. I was a pretty hard working person, but sometimes it was just easier to copy an answer from the book if I couldn’t remember it. Sometimes it was just a subject that I didn’t care one lick about, but I did need a passing grade for. Sometimes it was just everyone doing it in plain sight, and why would I be the dumbass to get a failing grade if everyone else is cheating? And sometimes it was freshman math, a subject I would never need again, a subject I didn’t want to study again and again and again. So I cheated, passed with a mediocre grade, and never looked back on.

        Do I feel bad? Not at all. My cheating did not affect my life in any way (except maybe slightly less disappointment from my parents on a couple of tests) and I don’t ever think about it. And no, I never cheat at work, so it didn’t turn me into a “career cheater” or anything.

        1. C Average*

          It is weird to me that people cheated and don’t feel at all bad about it.

          All the reasons sound like they could be valid under the right circumstances–parents who are perfectionistic to the point of abuse, the knowledge that just getting through certain required classes could open doors to academic opportunities and careers that would otherwise be closed (and that wouldn’t ever require the material covered in the classes in question), the belief that tests and other evaluations are arbitrary and unfair and don’t reveal one’s true potential or aptitude, the knowledge that everyone else is doing it.

          I haven’t been in these particular shoes exactly. Accepting my limits and not cheating earned me disapproval and accusations of laziness and mild discipline, but none of that rose to the level of abuse. Looking back, I’m guessing lots of other people WERE cheating, but I was sort of oblivious. It wasn’t fierce integrity that kept me from cheating, I don’t think. Cheating just didn’t really occur to me as a viable option in my universe of options. My universe of options was pretty much confined to “bend over and take it.”

          Still, I can’t accept that it’s meaningless. Advantages compound over time, as we know from the classic example of the entry-level employee who negotiates a wage versus the one who doesn’t. Years later, the negotiator has increased his or her lead over the non-negotiator, even if that first hiring experience was the only time he or she negotiated. Likewise, the person who cheated in high school and got better grades as a result may have gotten into a better college, or majored in a field with higher earning potential. The person who cheated in college got a higher class ranking than his or her non-cheating classmate of equal ability. These things matter. When you make that decision to copy an answer or cut a corner or otherwise fudge your work, you’re taking something you didn’t earn, and the person who opted not to cheat is probably going to be a few steps behind you forever.

          I’m sure I sound like Gallant from Goofus & Gallant, but I just can’t feel blase about that.

          1. Jen RO*

            And it seems to me so weird that people are so outraged about it, and I disagree about the importance of college cheating in the rest of your life… but I’m glad we can disagree and have a pleasant conversation about it!

    2. animaniactoo*

      I’m sorry you had to deal with that. Thank you for speaking up about it here as background context for possibilities.

      I think the relevant question here is: What kind of circumstances would you have to be in today to take that kind of path again? How likely do you think it would be for you to be in such circumstances?

      1. throwaway*

        I don’t think I would, ever. My job is prestigious and people place a lot of trust in that role, but it does not involve math beyond percentages and basic calculations, and math is not a daily thing to do.

        Basically, I lost the thread of math when we hit geometry and alegebra. I can do basic math, slowly, on paper, or use a calculator. The problem is, large numbers/equations and/or closely spaced ones move and flip when I look at them, so anything complicated will take five times as long and often still be wrong.

          1. throwaway*

            No- I can read well upwards of 100 pages an hour, in English or German, and “break the test” in reading and verbal scores. So dyslexia was never a concern.

            What is dyscalculia?

            1. animaniactoo*

              Math disability, the specific problems you describe tends to go along with dyslexia, and it is possible for the dyslexia component to be mild enough on the verbal/language side to be easily compensated for without realizing you’re doing it. However, there’s a whole range and you may simply have something like dyscalculia with numeral-specific dyslexia. It’d be a real oddball case, but it’s possible.

              Google for more info if you’d like. Sounds like it might be nice for you just to know if this is something you have, and what other areas of your life it might impact (time and organization are the usual victims).

              1. throwaway*

                Thanks! I’m awful at organization and have never done my own taxes, even. First my dad, then my wife, did all taxes and budgeting.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Oh yeah, you’re looking like a stronger and stronger candidate all the time here. I would definitely look into this for yourself. If nothing else having a quantifiable and diagnosed LD can have a strong psychological impact in terms of how you view yourself. And that’s before you even start looking into coping strategies.

                2. Jennifer*

                  Yeah, I strongly suspect you have dyscalculia–I think I have it too given how I could be tutored in math for hours and then forget it all the next day and never got past dummy algebra 2.

                  Honestly, I…well, you know what? Many things “require” math as a degree requirement where you are never, ever going to do that kind of math with the work that the degree does. Should you be prevented from getting a degree if you can’t do math no matter how hard you try and end up working fast food for a living because of being bad at ONE area of life? Especially if math isn’t a requirement for what you want to do in reality?

                  I got lucky: when I was in college they didn’t have a specific math requirement for my degrees. I’d probably end up screwed if I started now because they had to put some in.

                3. Loose Seal*

                  I have dyscalculia and was called lazy to my face by math teachers in front of my mother, who also believed I must be lazy. It did not help that my sister, two grades ahead of me, was a math genius. I spent a lot of my school years permanently grounded for “laziness” with my school work when I was the furtherest person from lazy when it comes to school.

                  I was diagnosed in college and it was a relief to know that there was a good reason and I wasn’t really lazy. I really want to run into my 9th grade Algebra teacher one day and give him a big FU, not only for his failure to recognize a learning disorder, but for his treatment of me in his class.

                  On-topic: Yes, I cheated in math class by using a calculator at home even after we signed a contract at school pledging not to. I wrote crib sheets for formulas for tests. If my eyes wandered to someone else’s paper during tests, I would “notice” their answer was different than mine and “find a reason” to change mine to theirs. Am I a good person today? Probably depends on who you ask but I generally think so. Have I ever cheated or done anything dishonest at work? No, although if I purposefully sought jobs that had little to no math component otherwise who knows what I would have done to keep food on my table?

                4. Loose Seal*

                  Meant to say that I purposefully sought jobs….

                  Not IF I sought jobs…

                  I was very clear by the time I was in 9th grade that I could not handle any kind of job that needs math on a regular basis.

                5. animaniactoo*

                  Loose Seal: A little bit of vicarious schadenfreude for you.

                  In the 3rd grade, my younger sister’s teacher decided that she was “unteachable” and made her sit in the hallway outside the classroom by herself every day. The teacher had taken Pysch 101 and thought she was an expert. Sis was just an uncooperative unteachable child. And she imposed the penalty she thought fit without ever discussing it with anybody else – not school admin, not my parents.

                  It was discovered by a family friend who was in the building for some reason I don’t remember – his wife may have been teaching there at the time or maybe his son was going there too. My parents went to war. They ended up pulling her out of that school altogether, but the emotional damage was long done and took years to (mostly) get over. Turns out she has dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and ADHD.

                  A neighbor of ours on our block also taught at the school. About 10 years ago, neighbor had a retirement party and the 3rd grade teacher was there. My dad took great pleasure in telling her that Sis was about to graduate college on the dean’s list. Although he did mention that he restrained himself from doing more than that only due to the fact that he didn’t want to make a scene at our neighbor’s party. But oh man he wanted to.

                6. Loose Seal*

                  @animaniactoo: ugh, I’m so sorry that happened to your sister and I’m glad she has such a supportive family. I’m sure she would have loved to have been there when your dad told her former teacher how well she was doing. Did the teacher remember your sister? Was she properly ashamed at her treatment of your sister?

                7. animaniactoo*

                  Loose Seal – from dad’s description, a little startlement, but otherwise, not so’s you’d notice…

              2. Elizabeth West*

                It totally sounds like you have it, throwaway–I have it too. And people with dyscalculia often have superior verbal and written skills. I was reading at a twelfth-grade level in second grade but never passed basic math once.

                1. Nina*

                  I truly envy people who are good in math, even basic math. The only math I know well is multiplication, and that’s only because my sister used to quiz me on times tables on my way to school. So it’s mostly memorization. I had to re-take basic algebra just to get into my college program.

                  I considered getting tested for dyscalculia years ago, but my mother kept saying “Stop thinking negatively! There’s nothing wrong with you!” Ah, mothers.

                  When I took my ACTs in high school, my English/Writing/Reading scores were excellent, but when I saw the dismal math score (dangerously low) I almost cried. It dragged down my whole average.

  27. Whats In A Name*

    Before I read any comments I just want to say that I 100% agree with Alison’s advice, particularly this part: it might make sense to stop by his office, say hi, and try to see if you can make things feel a little more normal.

    He my be in his office saying the same things or worried you are going to not see him as a leader because of your past. Try to see if you can just approach it in a neutral ground (if you can, because you did mention not respecting him and if you can’t change that there might be a bigger issue.).

  28. Mel in HR*

    I can’t help but wonder if he is “ignoring” you or “awkward” around you because you are so uncomfortable.
    Obviously I’m not there and only have one person’ perspective, but this letter repeatedly shares your distaste for this person. If I can pick up on that grudge, I wonder if you are giving him the impression that you feel that way? Maybe self analyze, figure out why you still feel so strongly about this and if there is anything you can do to be more approachable.

  29. Ronald*

    Telling her to go HR before there anything negative has happened to her is just about the worst advice I’ve ever seen on here. Not only is she violating confidentiality clauses, she is justifying it based on her perception that he is avoiding her, when it is just as likely that she is the one who is acting weird. Do your job, meet with him when it is time, and deal with any actual problems at that time. Try to act like a professional, not an intern just out of college.

    1. N.J.*

      You are being rude. The fact that the OP even wrote in here to discuss the intricacies of this situation would imply that he or she is concerned with bring professional, while also being prepared should this situation turn out badly. We ALL have people from our past, that, should we have to deal with them in a work situation, it would be less than desirable. She might be reading too much into his current character, she might not. She asked a respected workplace advice columnist for guidance, that alone is enough to prove she is giving this some thought. Lay off, you can get your point across without insulting the OP’s character.

  30. Marzipan*

    I think the flipside to “make an effort to be sure that Bob is truly being weird with you” is also “…and that you are not being weird with him”. Because it does sound a bit from your letter as though you’re seeing him as Bob The Cheaty Cheater Who I Do Not Respect, which, you know, doesn’t necessarily make for cheery interactions with you. I think you probably need to make a concerted effort to put it behind you. Not because cheating is a good thing – you don’t need to decide all of a sudden that what he did was fine – but it was a long time ago, and you’re judging him on it regardless of whatever changes he may have made since then. (I know you mentioned that there are other reasons you don’t respect him; but we don’t know what they are, and you did say it was mostly this reason, so I’m assuming they aren’t of the ‘…and he also clubs baby seals!’ variety.) I would probably be avoiding you in the hallway too, if I was getting that vibe from you.

  31. Kiki*

    If I was HR, I would find it very difficult to continue listening actively after hearing “cheating investigation”. If there was a way to describe that you were on a thing that negatively impacted him without saying what it was, that might work better. HR can ask for more details, but flipping it around and saying that afterwards might manage HR’s reactions a bit better.

    1. K*

      Good point, though I would also be concerned that being vague might cause HR to fill in the blanks with something even worse unless it’s done very very carefully. (For example, if I was told that a guy had been involved in some kind of serious but secret disciplinary issue in college, my first thought would probably be that he had been accused of sexual assault, just because that issue has gotten so much attention recently.)

  32. animaniactoo*

    I see a lot of people saying that this was pretty major stuff that he was doing, and that it reflects his core ethics/personality, because at that age, you’re an adult and you’re pretty well formed and you know this stuff or you don’t, and you abide by it or you don’t, and it just speaks to who you are as a person even 10 years down the road.

    I would like to say that I can’t disagree with that more strongly. Certainly it *could* speak to who you are and might be 10 years down the road. But there’s no certainty about it.

    People who were straightedged as they went through college and graduated later become embezzlers and frauds and perform other criminal acts. Why? Because they’re in a situation where either disillusionment has changed their views, or where circumstances are so pressing to them that they feel like they have no other choice.

    By the same lights – people who were pretty desperate in college for one reason or another may have acted in ways there that they justified at the time for lack of choices and then have worked damn hard to never be in those circumstances again. Because they believe even more strongly that having done the crime, it was wrong and their guilt pushes them to change.

    And some people (like me) have a whole ton of therapy to adjust their viewpoints and behavior and ability to see choices and consequences and deal with them differently, until we become people that we like and can live with. Admittedly my therapy came earlier in life and by 22 I was pretty well settled out, but that is not to say that somebody couldn’t achieve the same thing at 28 or 29. I strongly believe that is possible.

    I note that it seems like Bob has been with the company for awhile, and only moved over to become OP’s director recently. I am curious about how much interaction they’ve had in the time that they’ve both worked for the same company and how much OP’s current opinion of Bob is shaped by confirmation bias or actual working knowledge of his current ethics/business actions. How much of their dislike is based on current observations of who he is today, and how much is based on their previous history. It might be that Bob isn’t particularly unethical these days, but OP still doesn’t like or respect him and wouldn’t even if they didn’t have history.

    1. cbackson*

      Yeah, I’m saddened and disheartened by the number of people here who seem to think that redemption is simply impossible. People grow and change over time – the OP doesn’t know what Bob has done since college. None of us do. Based on these comments, it seems like Bob might as well have walked into traffic after high school graduation, because nothing he could do would ever remove the stain of his cheating.

      Maybe it’s my Christianity showing, but I have to believe that it’s possible for any of us to repent of our wrongdoing and to go on to upstanding lives. Even if that wrongdoing was very, very bad. Without that hope, what is there in life for a person who has chosen to do wrong, once he turns from that path?

      For what it’s worth, I’ve been both a victim of violent crime, and I’ve sat on a college honor council.

    2. New Bee*

      Yeah, I was on my school’s honor committee (and graduated college less than 10 years ago), and I don’t really see the cheating as relevant to Bob’s work now. Maybe it’s just the cases I’ve seen, maybe it’s because getting expelled for cheating was exceedingly rare (I don’t think it was recommended for any of the cases I was on)…I don’t know. I’m a former teacher who took, and dealt with academic dishonesty very seriously, but even now I see the relationship between Bob and OP as a result of the cheating as the central issue, not whether his cheating 10 years ago reflects his current ability to do his job

    3. anon for this*

      Thank you for this comment. If we want people to change for the better, we have to give them the opportunity to do so. If we automatically assume because someone made mistakes years ago that they are unethical and awful, without giving them the chance to show us differently, we’re creating an environment where they have almost no motivation to change. It’s absolutely possible that Bob is someone who felt rewarded for cheating and has continued to do so, but it’s also possible he took ownership of his mistakes and has worked hard to be a better person since then, so it’s worth taking a step back (especially 10 years later when you have to work with him and be civil) to see what he’s like now, instead of assuming the worst.

      (I say this as someone who screwed up pretty royally when younger, was privileged enough to minimize the consequences of my actions, but also took responsibility and never repeated my mistake. I owned my mistake and learned from it, so while I would certainly not fault anyone for believing my punishment was too lenient, I’d hope they could see all the things I’ve done since then and not believe me to be an awful person.)

  33. Corporate Drone*

    History of cheating might be why Bob is enjoying a successful career. Being an intellectual is often a liability in business. Being cunning is what gets people ahead.

    Don’t you remember in Mad Men, where Pete tattles on Don to Bert, telling him that Don is using an assumed name? Bert’s response, “So what?” sums it up perfectly. Don was a cash cow.

    1. Darkitect*

      That’s about how I see it. I’m sure there’s a study out there somewhere showing a higher than average percentage of sociopaths at the top of the ladder.

      1. N.J.*

        I find your reiteration of the sociopathic idea interesting, but do you really think that the business world is crawling with sociopaths? Sociopathy is a very specific constellation of emotional, social and psychological deficiencies, which admittedly does include some tendencies towards lack of remorse and a grandiose sense of self, but it’s a bit of a leap to assume that cheaters are sociopaths. There are plenty of cheaters who are morally suspect, but they aren’t sociopaths.

  34. FD*

    In general, I think Alison’s advice is good, though I do think that she shouldn’t say what was involved. I think just saying that there was a matter that they were both involved in back in college, and that may result in some awkwardness.

    I did some things I’m not proud of in college. Some things I did wrong out of ignorance, like being intensely insensitive to other groups because I hadn’t learned that I was being a jerk. Some things I knew I shouldn’t do, but I did them anyway.

    I’m a very different person even five or six years later. I imagine I’ll be more different still in five more years.

    This person did something wrong ten years ago. He may have learned. (By ‘learned’, I don’t mean ‘learned that cheating is wrong’ so much as ‘developed the emotional maturity to make the right decision in difficult situations’.0 He may not have. The school punished him as they saw fit. Regardless of whether you think it was sufficient punishment, the school made the decision it made.

    The problem for today is to make sure that this situation doesn’t impair your career with this company.

  35. The Strand*

    Sorry, I have to disagree with the crowd here on letting bygones be bygones. Possibly because I have had a similar situation: in my case, I was a journalist for my school’s paper and found out about a really serious case of plagiarism by one of my classmates. FERPA meant that I could only write about the misdeed but not name anyone. The writer in question has since gone on to write a best selling book and do some speaking around the country, and surprise! ended up doing something questionable in one of hir projects, as far as authorship, and has engaged in other bad behavior. So, think Jonah Lehrer, except my classmate is nowhere near as famous.

    Here, the student wasn’t engaged in the type of plagiarism or cheating where a rewrite of the assignment, a lowered grade and some discussion with the faculty would have been appropriate. For plagiarism or cheating to go up before a honor board in almost all institutions, you are talking about a much more consistent amount of cheating and plagiarism, or one incident that is extremely outrageous. OP has stated “I’m talking about final exams and term papers.” In other words, plural and repeated incidents.

    Believe me, you won’t enjoy being treated by a medical student who cheated her way through Anatomy, and I’d think twice before driving on a bridge built by an engineer who cheated throughout her academic career. There is a reason that these honor codes exist at institutions.

    Are a lot of assessments bullshit: yes. But does a consistent pattern of cheating (not the “once this person cheated a little on a high stakes test” described in some of the comments) carry into other areas of life? Does it tell you something about the person’s ethical orientation? Apparently so. describes several studies where a person cheating in school kept cheating in their personal or business lives.

    Lots of people make mistakes, and most of us have told little white lies. Extremely few people lie outrageously, to the point where we are held accountable like OP’s boss. I would be very concerned he will retaliate.

    1. Anon LLC*

      I also dealt with this in professional school and going on five years later, I would be DAMN concerned if I encountered the individual I reported for cheating in a professional setting. In that case it was only one incident, but she was caught red-handed and proceeded to spend weeks refusing to own up and treating me like trash. She managed to get licensed, which I think was probably fair assuming she didn’t have other issues and indicates that she must have owned up to it eventually, so I’d want to try and give her a second chance, but she’d be starting out on real unsteady ground.

      1. The Strand*

        Yes, I do think there’s room for someone to learn from their mistakes if they are caught and addressed. It’s when you see a consistent pattern of lies and misconduct that you need to consider whether the person can ‘grow out’ of the behavior.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          As Mike C. pointed out above, you’re forgetting that there are TEN YEARS between the college investigation and this job. The OP cannot account for anything Bob may or may not have done during that time.

  36. Trout 'Waver*

    In my experience, cheaters cheat. They rarely get caught. When someone is caught cheating once, they’re usually cheating in many other ways and not getting caught. That alone would color how I thought of Bob.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        For one instance of cheating. I bet Bob was and still is cheating in many other ways that he has not been caught for.

  37. Elder Dog*

    I knew someone in college who got an asterisk in his transcript “for plagiarism.” He loaned an ex-girlfriend a couple of papers he wrote and had gotten high marks and instead of using them as examples of what was being graded on, she copied them and turned them in as hers.
    A teaching assistant recognized his work and the ex said he told her to copy them. It was he said/she said. She got suspended for a couple semesters, and he got an asterisk on his transcript because he did the work and earned the grades, and they couldn’t prove he had cheated, but didn’t want to let it go unpunished in case he had.

  38. neverjaunty*

    Here’s what I’m not getting: the OP mentioned the past cheating as the main reason she doesn’t respect New Guy, but also says it’s for “a variety of reasons”, and that’s being overlooked.

    OP, can you elaborate on what else about this guy is problematic for you? If it’s just something that gets on your nerves, like he can’t shut up about his favorite TV show, or it’s something that would be no biggie except for the cheating, that’s one thing. But if they’re more serious issues then that, alone, is a good reason to see if you can move out from under him in the org chart.

  39. Tea*

    I think it’s interesting how many people dismiss “bad stuff you do in college” as something way in the past and ridiculous to bring up. Maybe because I’m not that far out of college myself, but I would definitely judge THE HELL out of someone who cheated extensively through their classes, and I would judge them for any other shitty things they did during that time too. Not for the not great decisions that plenty of college students make (drinking too much, partying too hard, jumping into school fountains) but stuff that warrants investigation like, oh, patterns of plagiarism, stalking, harassment, etc.? Definitely.

    I also wonder if the type of offense changes how people think about it. If a repeated pattern of cheating 10 years ago isn’t concerning, is a repeated pattern of stalking and harassment no big deal too?

    *Posted this above on accident, now put in the right place!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I find this problematic as well. College students are too young to be held accountable for their actions? Isn’t that how we end up with the Brock Turners of the world?

      No, I don’t think this person’s cheating is as serious as Brock Turner’s actions. But honestly, I find “don’t hold people accountable for what they did as mere college-age children, even though they’re old enough to sign a contract and fight a war” just as wrong as “a cheater in college is a cheater for the rest of his life; let’s brand his forehead.” The truth is somewhere in between.

    2. FD*

      It’s not so much that it doesn’t matter, it’s that ten years ago is a long time.

      For an analogy, imagine someone had a past record where they shoplifted ten years ago. Since then, have been totally honest and had a good work record. Shoplifting isn’t right, but when it was only once incident ten years ago, you should probably consider it in the context of the rest of their life and history.

      1. Jen RO*

        Yup, exactly. I would definitely be worried about a cheating new grad who tried to get a job with me. No work history, and cheating at his finals? Probably not someone I am interested in. Someone 10 years out of college, with good recommendations? I don’t care what he did in college.

      2. Tea*

        I think the sticking point for this particular case is that it wasn’t a one off incident, it was a repeated pattern of plagiarism. Sure, I’m not going to hold it against someone if they claimed a five finger discount on a snowglobe ten years ago, but if I found out that that they regularly stole from a bunch of stores that I frequented? I think I’d have a different perspective.

  40. Original Poster For This Thread*

    Hello. OP here. Thank you to everyone who has replied thus far. Your comments have been extremely interesting and insightful. Thank you also to AAM for posting and answering my question on her most excellent blog.

    Some additional information:
    1. This entire situation happened the same week as graduation. In normal circumstances, a [student-jury] hearing would have taken place, but due to end-of-semester timing, this wasn’t able to happen. I was the lead investigator, and along with a fellow Honor Board member, we provided the accused with enough compelling evidence to prompt a guilty (no contest) plea. I submitted the necessary paperwork to the Dean of the Honor Board the same day, and I think we graduated a couple days after that.

    2. Interestingly, I remember this specific case BECAUSE it happened so close to graduation. I had investigated dozens of alleged violations (from minor to expulsion-cases), and really only remember the extremely egregious ones. I remember this case specifically, possibly because the case took less than a week to go from open-to-closed (usually cases drag on for weeks), or possibly because it was my last case, ever.

    3. FERPA – The school’s Honor System was (and continues to be) a huge deal; students must hand-write and sign a “pledge” on every homework assignment, test, project and paper – public affirmation that they have followed the Honor System. Violations, along with student names, and their consequences (Dean’s Star, expulsion, etc.) were published on the school website and school newspaper (not sure if they still do this). Hearings were student-run and open to the public. All of it was meant to ensure that students kept each other accountable for adhering to the Honor System. There is no expectation of confidentiality during the school year with matters pertaining to the Honor System. I’m not entirely sure about expectations of confidentiality AFTER college, but I’m glad FERPA was brought up at any rate, so thank you.

    4. Perceived awkwardness from him- I don’t know this person well at all, but people in my department (and company) are generally pretty social and friendly. It’s normal to walk down the hallway and at least make eye contact (along with a small nod or smile) with people as they pass you. In my situation, I have tried to make somewhat friendly eye-contact (“hey, I see you over there, fellow human being”) with this person, but to no response. I also recently checked my “resting bitch face” in the mirror – I’m pretty sure I don’t have one, but I am biased.

    5. Perceived awkwardness from me – I’m very much interested in maintaining a good working relationship with this person, because we are both adults and professionals, and as professionals, we owe that to each other. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. If I search my soul, though – I would like a good working relationship with this person because he could make my life miserable if he wanted to, PLUS he has ultimate say on how big my year-end bonus will be. I refuse to be any sort of victim in this situation.

    6. Perceived jealousy – at our company, there are two different “tracks” – management and technology. I chose technology, he chose management. I have done very well on the technology track, he has done well on the management track. We’re both on the same relative rung on the ladder of our respective tracks. I currently have no aspirations to be a people leader; I personally find technology much more interesting and fulfilling.

    And yes, it has been 10 years, so maybe he’s forgotten about it – but I really don’t think he has. I’m surprised I haven’t forgotten about it, either, but I don’t dwell on it every waking moment. It certainly doesn’t keep me up at night. I just don’t know how to get past this initial barrier of breaking the “I-know-what-you-did-last-decade” ice.

    1. AD*

      Thanks for the reply and the update, OP. It sounds like you have the right approach and the right frame of mind here. Good luck!

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      OP, is there no way to move to a different 2nd level manager instead of Bob? That seems like the easiest solution. You don’t have to worry about retaliation from him, he doesn’t have to worry about perceived insubordination from you.

      If not, I think breaking the ice quick and hard is the best way to go here. Don’t wait. Don’t try to ease into it. Go to his office, say you wanted to stop by and say hi, welcome him, let him know he can come to you with any questions, and hope he won’t let college color the future of you working together. There were some really good scripts offered upthread.

      After that, keep an eye and see if he continues to treat you differently than others. If he does, even subtly, I think that warrants a trip to HR. If he doesn’t, try not to let your lack of respect for him interfere too much (he could easily become a bitch-eating-crackers if you don’t keep that in check – and I certainly wouldn’t blame you for that, but it does not an easy working environment make). You know something of him that means you don’t trust him off the bat. So, look for things that could help you see he’s changed. I don’t think you can just assume he has, but definitely try to move passed you view of him by seeing if he has become a better person in the last 10 years (chances are he has – which would be great). If it seems like he hasn’t, I think that’s another good reason to try and get a different 2nd level manager – because if he hasn’t changed, he likely will try and retaliate against you

    3. CC*

      There’s a decent enough chance that we went to the same school, (though I don’t remember honor code stuff published in the newspaper, so maybe there are two technology schools with pledges, Dean’s stars, and an honor system/board run by students – did your cafeteria have terrible food but pretty much the best view anybody could hope for?)

      Anyway, I’m conflicted – I sympathize with you a great deal, since I had a rough time in school and sucked it up without cheating and with a lot of time in office hours. Cheating is a pretty crappy thing to do.

      That said, oof, I was also a jerk in college, in ways I now find kind of horrifying, and while my peers from there would be fair to regard me poorly based on that, I’d also like a chance to show that things are different.

      I’m going to echo what a lot if others have said about speaking to the person directly and feeling it out, and trying to treat the person cleanly and going from there. You know enough to be mindful of if the person is sketchy.

    4. TL -*

      Oh, wow, that sounds exactly like my school’s honor system. Is that a common system?
      (Especially writing Pledged on assignments.)

      1. CC*

        Plot twist – Everybody went to the same school, the “Ask-A-Manager” title falls off, revealing that this is the alumni event planning board. Everybody gets a beer tasting!

        1. TL -*

          I’m pretty sure that my school was not big enough to graduate the entire commenting community at AAM – but hey, if your school was all about the red brick buildings and didn’t have a good view from the main dining hall, OP, we could be alumni twins!

        2. voyager1*

          Well the part about him controlling your bonus would be concerning for me. I am leaning towards talking to him in a way that clears the air but at the same time lets him know you know about what he did. Several posters have given good scripts upthread with better language then I could come up with.

          Please give us a update if and when anything changes.

    5. Joe*

      You have GOT to get in front of this. There’s no reason to go to straight to this guy, especially not one-on-one. Go to HR and get your version in there first. THEN maybe go WITH HR to have a meeting with this guy, and iron out now how things are going to be.

      Yes, “Bob” may have changed dramatically. But you know, he cheated pretty seriously. And I’m going to guess that cheating has served him very well through the years. So them’s the breaks.

      1. Jen RO*

        Go to HR? OK, somewhat warranted, if this guy is really ignoring OP and could affect her professional life. But have a meeting with him AND HR? What could possibly come out of it? “You cheated 10 years ago, you’re bad and you should feel bad, and HR is here to emphasize the point”? I just… I don’t understand.

        1. Joe*

          No, it’s so that everything is on the record. OP can’t trust this guy; OP has to assume Bob will retaliate. So HR is there to mediate that everyone wants to move forward, and that the past is the past (in case “Bob” wants to retaliate down the road).

          1. De*

            “OP has to assume Bob will retaliate”

            Reaklly, *has to* assume? I’m not sure where this is coming from – so far all we know is that he is avoiding eye contact with the OP when passing them in the hallway.

            1. Relly*

              I read “has to assume” not as “obviously, he will retaliate, watch out” but rather “OP should recognize that retaliation is a possibility, and thus ensure she’s covered if it happens.”

              I.e. “She knows that she can’t trust him; therefore, she needs to pre-emptively prepare for the worst case scenario, just in case.”

              I could have just misinterpreted Joe, though.

          2. Mike C.*

            I wouldn’t agree with this – unless this person is sadistic they have no reason to come after you because you’re telling them that they have no reason to fear you. This isn’t House of Cards where the mere existence of someone who knows is going to ruin everything.

    6. De*

      “In my situation, I have tried to make somewhat friendly eye-contact (“hey, I see you over there, fellow human being”) with this person, but to no response.”

      Am I reading this correctly that you haven’t even yet tried to say “hello” to him? That seems weird to me. Do you know whether he avoids eye contact with other people as well?

  41. AnonEMoose*

    I keep thinking back to something Alison has said in regard to interviews and the early days in a new job: that when people have limited information, each data point looms larger than it otherwise might. In this case, the OP doesn’t have a lot of data about Bob. And what she does have is…not encouraging. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that this is looming large with her (and it would with me, too). With that in mind, I don’t think it’s right to assume that the OP is some kind of pearl-clutching martinet who can’t look past someone’s past actions to see who they are now. It doesn’t sound like she has had that much opportunity to gather updated information, if that makes sense.

    That said, I also work in higher education, and have dealt with academic honesty issues on and off over the years. As with most things, there are degrees.

    Sometimes people are rushing to turn something in, haven’t consistently cited things (meaning to go back and add the citations later), and forget or miss some. They’re typically pretty horrified when it’s caught, and if given the opportunity to fix it, will do so and mostly be more careful in the future.

    Some students genuinely don’t understand the expected academic practices about citing sources, and so on. They get caught, they get an opportunity to learn better, everyone moves on. It’s still noted on their records, and future violations are likely to get a harsher consequence, but they have a chance to do better.

    And then there are the ones at the extreme end of the scale. This would be along the lines of falsifying research data, stealing someone else’s work on a grand and/or repeated scale, buying papers, and so on. That’s where it, to me, crosses the line to speaking to someone’s character and ethics. Because there’s really not much of an argument to made that they didn’t know it was wrong.

    Basically, sometimes, people mess up. An isolated incident doesn’t necessarily speak to an individual’s overall character, especially if it’s something like a few unattributed quotations or poor paraphrases. But if it’s more serious than that, and most especially if it’s shown to be a repeated pattern, that’s when I consider it less of a mistake and more a deliberate choice. Anyone can mess up, but I do think that when it gets more into “deliberate choice” territory, more accountability is appropriate.

    I don’t think someone caught cheating in college should have to wear a scarlet “C” for the rest of their lives. But I don’t think a “hey, you were young, wipe the slate clean” is necessarily appropriate, either. Bob cheated, in what sounds like a pretty major way, got caught, and had consequences imposed by the university. That’s the academic consequence. But the presence of that academic consequence doesn’t mean there may not be real world consequences, as well. Encountering the OP is such a consequence.

    Should the OP try to minimize the awkwardness, try to find out more about who Bob is now, and hopefully find a path forward? Yes, I think this is the best option. But this is information she has about Bob that she has the right to take into account in her dealings with him. Would I treat him any differently than anyone else? In person, probably not. But would I take some discreet extra steps to verify information given to me by him, and try to CYA where possible? Most likely, yes. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

  42. Minion*

    Bumblesplat University continues to suffer from reputation issues. Weren’t they in the news just the other day? I’m not surprised at allegations of cheating coming from their alumni.

  43. AMT*

    I’ve always wondered what I’d do in this situation. I was on a committee in grad school that dealt with students who were in danger of being expelled from the program, typically for a combination of professional misconduct at their internship and a certain level of academic failure. My field is tight-knit and I run into classmates all the time. In fact, I’ve never worked somewhere that didn’t employ at least one alumnus from my school.

    Complicating matters, you had to *really* do something serious to be brought in front of this committee. I would have serious reservations about working with any of the students I saw during my time as a student representative.

  44. throwaway*

    Ran out of nesting but wanted to say a huge thank you to anamaniactoo for the info on dyscalculia. I am almost crying at my desk. It makes so much sense!

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Would you accept a virtual hug from a stranger on the Internet?

      I have a good friend who was diagnosed with a learning disability in college. She said that for the first time in her life, she didn’t feel stupid. Knowing that there was an actual issue meant there was stuff that could be done to improve things.

      I’d definitely encourage you to seek out an official diagnosis and (if diagnosed) assistance; even if it doesn’t seem super relevant to your life now, knowing some coping strategies and such could still open some doors for you.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yup. Too bad I found out it existed loooooong after I got out of college. But I’ve managed to make a life where I don’t have to do major math to survive, so yay there.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ll give you another internet hug. My diagnosis came through Vocational Rehabilitation testing–they sent me to a neuropsychiatrist. It was SUCH a relief that the doctor actually understood it; I can’t even tell you.

      I still struggle and my job situation will probably be precarious for the rest of my life, but at least I know it’s not my fault and I’m not stupid. I’m glad you have a job / career where you’re doing well and have some stability. :)

    4. animaniactoo*

      In the interests of making this thread even more tear-jerky, I posted up on the original thread about my sister being the one who has dyscalculia. I sent her links to that thread and this one because I thought she’d be interested and told her knowing her meant that I’d been able to help make someone’s life better today. Just because I know her.

        1. throwaway*

          That’s great to know! I guess it doesn’t really affect me much now, and I’m super glad I was able to get a good job despite this. Like another poster said, should I instead have not been able to complete my degree, and worked crap jobs way below my intelligence because I couldn’t pass math? In college, I only took Stats, which I passed by- not actually cheating, I guess- but pleading and crying to my freshman prof to PLEASE give extra time and let me take it alone, despite no documented disability (that’s the shady part), covering most of the problem to only read a few numbers at a time, and choosing Stats over actual Math. I got a B-.

          I actually won’t say what exactly I do, since I’m paranoid about being doxxed, my field takes a lot of information and background checks from applicants, and my wife reads AaM. Suffice to say that my exams after college did not require any math, and I passed well. Thanks for your support, all. I was so worried about being jumped on as as bad of a person as the boss.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Totally understand the paranoia. It’d be pretty easy to out me if I talk too specifically about what I do – there’s not a lot of companies out there doing it, and within each company, the departments tend not to be so large. Mine is currently a total of 5 people 6 with boss and I’d say we’re one of the top 2 players in a field of about 7 or 8.

            On it not really affecting you now – at this point, you’ve got a lot of coping mechanisms in place, but if you looked into it, you might find some other strategies developed by people who have done a lot of studying about what tends to work best, that could help a lot even from where you’re at now. Not saying you should do that or have to, just putting out there that it is possible that it could still have a decent impact on your life now to dig into it more and possibly even get officially diagnosed.

            I do assume that you can trust your wife not to out or penalize you though. lol.

  45. Roscoe*

    Didn’t read everything, so sorry if this is duplicate, but is it possible that you are acting weird toward him already? I mean you blatantly say you don’t respect him. While I do find it petty since it was 10 years ago, if you are acting that way, well you share some blame. So yes, he as a manager is at fault if he is acting weird to you, but look at your part in this as well. Are you glaring at him all the time? Whispering to colleagues when he walks by? Anything like that?

    1. AW*

      OP posted as “Original Poster For This Thread” so if you search the page for that you’ll find their update.

  46. Photoshop Til I Drop*

    Reading all this lively debate has made me realize that I actually have not changed at all since college–and by that I mean that I was a boring fuddy-duddy at 21, as well as now.

  47. crazy8s*

    So far the OP is making a lot of assumptions about what the guy is thinking about her that don’t seem to be based on much in the way of his actual behavior today. The only behavior that she has reported is that the guy doesn’t seem to be as friendly to her as the other people in the department are. We don’t know why that is. Maybe the guy isn’t friendly to anyone. Is he treating her any differently than he treats other people?

    the OP “thinks” he hasn’t forgotten about the incident, , but we don’t know what makes her think that. Just because she has a vivid memory about it doesn’t mean he does. Other than that, she is making a lot of assumptions about what he’s thinking today based on stuff that happened a long time ago.

    I understand her concern, but I also think it’s important to get clear about what she knows and what she only thinks she knows. A person should only go to HR based on what they know, not what they think they know. And based on what she knows, I don’t think going to HR right now is warranted. What seems to be the best way to get clear about what, if anything, is going on with him, is to walk into his office and talk to him directly about it.

  48. Greten*

    The cheater who is just new to the company is now two levels above the long-time employee who did honest work as student?

    In stories like this, you can see that the society is so wrong on so many levels.

    1. De*

      Maybe he actually worked harder after college. Maybe the OP took time off. Maybe the OP did not want to progress into management and has other goals.

      Ten years out of college, it’s completely normal for people to be in different positions. Nothing wrong with that.

      1. Jen RO*

        And OP actually clarified above that she took the technology track and the coworker took the management track.

Comments are closed.