It is no exaggeration to say that Amanda Hocking has dedicated her life to baseball — especially women’s baseball — in Britain. Playing the game has been her dream since she was a child.
That is what made the events of the last few weeks doubly painful to Hocking, and drove her to resign from her position as the general manager of Britain’s national women’s baseball team.
On April 25, Hocking, who goes by Doris, was shocked to see a post on the British Baseball Federation’s Twitter account that she said disgusted her. The post appeared to be a crass attempt by the federation to use a sexualized image of a topless female player to promote the new United Kingdom Women’s Baseball league, which Hocking founded.
The image was a rendering of a female player viewed from behind, wearing a helmet and holding a glove. The player appeared to be either topless or wearing a halter top and just to the left of the image sat the logo of the women’s league, lending the appearance of its approval. Despite requests to have the tweet taken down, it stayed up for hours, with the federation’s president initially defending it.
small but passionate British baseball community over an issue that mirrors an ongoing problem in the United States.
May 4 resignation in a telephone interview from her home in Camelford, Cornwall, in southwestern England. “Ever since I was a kid it has been my dream to play baseball for Britain and to build this league and be taken seriously. And then it was shattered.”
As in the United States, the episode was a catalyst for many to more closely examine attitudes that British baseball holds toward women. But unlike in M.L.B., many in the British baseball community quickly rallied around Hocking and condemned the B.B.F.
Players in Britain do not make a living playing baseball, so there is far less at stake. But many teams issued statements condemning the tweet and the lack of a quick response from the federation. Players threatened to boycott games unless action was taken.
“That was gratifying to see,” said Tracey Wilkes, a British New York Mets fan who lives in Sheffield, England, and co-hosts “Birds with Balls,” a British baseball podcast. “The support for Doris and the women’s game from the male teams has been amazing and I think this regrettable incident has given us an opportunity to learn from it.”
For many, the tweet itself was only the seed of the problem. The lack of contrition from the federation, and its initial decision to defend the image rather than delete it, added fuel to the furor.
Drew Spencer, the head coach of the British men’s team, also oversees the men’s and women’s domestic teams. He was shocked and disappointed by the tweet, he said, and immediately reached out to Hocking to lend support.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be a big deal,” said Spencer, a Californian who played center field for Dartmouth College in the 1990s before moving to England. “This has been devastating for Doris. She has literally dedicated her life to British baseball.”
Hocking, 34, was seven years old when her mother bought her a baseball glove. She played with her brother and some friends at the local soccer field, but they did not even know the rules. When she was a teenager she regularly scanned eBay for a pitching machine and when she was about 19 she reached out to the B.B.F. to see if there were any teams or leagues for women.
They pointed her to softball, which did not interest her. She was just beginning to think about starting a women’s national team when she collapsed one day from a severe case of cholesteatoma, a skin growth in the middle ear that reached her brain. Doctors told he she would not live past 27.
“I had accepted that I was going to die,” she said. “I planned my own funeral.”
A new laser technology destroyed the growth and Hocking recovered, although with some balance issues related to the damage to her inner ear. Despite regaining her health, she struggled to cope with the changes in her life until one day she saw an advertisement on social media for a coed baseball league in Cornwall. She joined, and her passion for baseball, and her spirit, were renewed.
“That advert saved my life,” she said. “I had nothing to get up for. Since then, it’s been all baseball.”
Hocking works as a sales assistant for an outdoor clothing company and on a full-time basis attends Plymouth Marjon University, where she studies sports development and coaching. All the while, she has been building the new women’s national team and creating the U.K.’s first women’s domestic league in 80 years, while also playing for a club team in Paris.
She says her interest in the sport was so extreme that it eventually led to the end of her marriage.
“It all became too much for my husband,” she said. “We are still friends and all that, but I’m addicted to baseball. I feel like I was put on the planet to give my services to it.”
But in the amount of time it took to look at a tweet, the game she loved so much seemed to turn on her.
When Hocking first saw the post of the topless woman, she considered it appalling, but felt it would be easily remedied by deleting it. “Everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “You address it and move on.” So she texted Perez and asked him to remove it.
“It’s obvious that the player on the image is topless and is inappropriate,” Hocking wrote in a text she showed to The New York Times, “can you change it or remove it, please. Thanks.”
Perez initially refused, claiming that the woman in the image was not topless. Instead, he wrote back to Hocking claiming the image originally had a uniform but that an editor had smoothed it out “so you can’t see her name.”
The B.B.F. left the post up for roughly 12 hours before deleting it, despite increasingly urgent appeals from Hocking and others. Hocking said she felt Perez’s replies to her were insulting.
Despite several attempts to contact Perez by email and voice message, he did not respond to requests for comment.
As hours passed and the tweet remained, Hocking said, she received several outraged messages from colleagues and members of the women’s international baseball community under the mistaken impression that Hocking had sanctioned the tweet.
“It was damaging to my reputation and to the reputation of the whole league,” she said.
While the post was still up, Wilks, the Mets fan and podcaster, did an internet search and uncovered a stock photo of a woman with bare shoulders that is likely the original image. It appeared to refute the notion that someone had merely erased the name from a uniform jersey.
Wilks’s discovery inflamed the matter and Molly Willcox, a respected British player, announced on May 2 that she would boycott any team affiliated with the B.B.F. until Perez resigned.
“It seems a bit harsh,” she said in a video posted on social media. “But unfortunately, our sport can’t continue to grow or thrive under his presidency.”
On May 7, with pressure mounting, Perez resigned. A few days later, the B.B.F. apologized to Hocking and the entire women’s league. It said it planned to work with Hocking and WB-UK to analyze the “structural failures within the league that led to the unfortunate incident.”
Hocking said that once the situation calmed down, she grew heartened at the outpouring of support she received. She remains focused on the new domestic league but is not yet ready to take back her position as the G.M. of the national team. Spencer said he hopes Hocking reconsiders.
After all, modern women’s baseball in Britain is mostly the result of Hocking’s vision and industry.
“Nobody does anything all by themselves,” Spencer said, “But if Doris doesn’t create WB-UK and become a beacon of hope for women all over the country, it probably wouldn’t exist today.”
HANOVER, N.H. — Sirey Zhang, a first-year student at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, was on spring break in March when he received an email from administrators accusing him of cheating.
Dartmouth had reviewed Mr. Zhang’s online activity on Canvas, its learning management system, during three remote exams, the email said. The data indicated that he had looked up course material related to one question during each test, honor code violations that could lead to expulsion, the email said.
Mr. Zhang, 22, said he had not cheated. But when the school’s student affairs office suggested he would have a better outcome if he expressed remorse and pleaded guilty, he said he felt he had little choice but to agree. Now he faces suspension and a misconduct mark on his academic record that could derail his dream of becoming a pediatrician.
“What has happened to me in the last month, despite not cheating, has resulted in one of the most terrifying, isolating experiences of my life,” said Mr. Zhang, who has filed an appeal.
Dartmouth recently accused of cheating on remote tests while in-person exams were shut down because of the coronavirus. The allegations have prompted an on-campus protest, letters of concern to school administrators from more than two dozen faculty members and complaints of unfair treatment from the student government, turning the pastoral Ivy League campus into a national battleground over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic.
insecure, unfair and inaccurate.
cease using the exam-monitoring tools.
“These kinds of technical solutions to academic misconduct seem like a magic bullet,” said Shaanan Cohney, a cybersecurity lecturer at the University of Melbourne who researches remote learning software. But “universities which lack some of the structure or the expertise to understand these issues on a deeper level end up running into really significant trouble.”
At Dartmouth, the use of Canvas in the cheating investigation was unusual because the software was not designed as a forensic tool. Instead, professors post assignments on it and students submit their homework through it.
That has raised questions about Dartmouth’s methodology. While some students may have cheated, technology experts said, it would be difficult for a disciplinary committee to distinguish cheating from noncheating based on the data snapshots that Dartmouth provided to accused students. And in an analysis of the Canvas software code, The Times found instances in which the system automatically generated activity data even when no one was using a device.
“If other schools follow the precedent that Dartmouth is setting here, any student can be accused based on the flimsiest technical evidence,” said Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, who analyzed Dartmouth’s methodology.
Seven of the 17 accused students have had their cases dismissed. In at least one of those cases, administrators said, “automated Canvas processes are likely to have created the data that was seen rather than deliberate activity by the user,” according to a school email that students made public.
The 10 others have been expelled, suspended or received course failures and unprofessional-conduct marks on their records that could curtail their medical careers. Nine pleaded guilty, including Mr. Zhang, according to school documents; some havefiled appeals.
Dr. Compton acknowledged that the investigation had caused distress on campus. But he said Geisel, founded in 1797 and one of the nation’s oldest medical schools, was obligated to hold its students accountable.
“We take academic integrity very seriously,” he said. “We wouldn’t want people to be able to be eligible for a medical license without really having the appropriate training.”
Instructure, the company that owns Canvas, did not return requests for comment.
A Hunt Begins
In January, a faculty member reported possible cheating during remote exams, Dr. Compton said. Geisel opened an investigation.
To hinder online cheating, Geisel requires students to turn on ExamSoft — a separate tool that prevents them from looking up study materials during tests — on the laptop or tablet on which they take exams. The school also requires students to keep a backup device nearby. The faculty member’s report made administrators concerned that some students may have used their backup device to look at course material on Canvas while taking tests on their primary device.
administrators held a virtual forum and were barraged with questions about the investigation. The conduct review committee then issued decisions in 10 of the cases, telling several students that they would be expelled, suspending others and requiring some to retake courses or repeat a year of school at a cost of nearly $70,000.
Many on campus were outraged. On April 21, dozens of students in white lab coats gathered in the rain in front of Dr. Compton’s office to protest. Some held signs that said “BELIEVE YOUR STUDENTS” and “DUE PROCESS FOR ALL” in indigo letters, which dissolved in the rain into blue splotches.
Several students said they were now so afraid of being unfairly targeted in a data-mining dragnet that they had pushed the medical school to offer in-person exams with human proctors. Others said they had advised prospective medical students against coming to Dartmouth.
“Some students have built their whole lives around medical school and now they’re being thrown out like they’re worthless,” said Meredith Ryan, a fourth-year medical student not connected to the investigation.
That same day, more than two dozen members of Dartmouth’s faculty wrote a letter to Dr. Compton saying that the cheating inquiry had created “deep mistrust” on campus and that the school should “make amends with the students falsely accused.”
In an email to students and faculty a week later, Dr. Compton apologized that Geisel’s handling of the cases had “added to the already high levels of stress and alienation” of the pandemic and said the school was working to improve its procedures.
The medical school has already made one change that could reduce the risk of false cheating allegations. For remote exams, new guidelines said, students are now “expected to log out of Canvas on all devices prior to testing.”
Mr. Zhang, the first-year student, said the investigation had shaken his faith in an institution he loves. He had decided to become a doctor, he said, to address disparities in health care access after he won a fellowship as a Dartmouth undergraduate to study medicine in Tanzania.
Mr. Zhang said he felt compelled to speak publicly to help reform a process he found traumatizing.
“I’m terrified,” he said. “But if me speaking up means that there’s at least one student in the future who doesn’t have to feel the way that I did, then it’s all worthwhile.”