A Duke Judical Court found 34 students guilty of irregularities on a final exam, with nine potentially being expelled and 25 others subject to failing grades. The unusual differentation is because the school's honor code distinguishes between extremely severe, severe and minor offenses.
Certainly, after last year's "rape" case, Duke did not need this type of publicity. The more important issue here, however, obviously is the cheating. Duke had a strong honor code in play; many schools, especially state-supported schools, have systems which make harder for faculty to prevail. Additionally, students have become more sophiscated in cheating procedures and there are Internet sites that make cheating relatively easy. Finally, the "no snitching" culture means that students are very cautious about turning in other students.
I try to provide some safeguards, such as multiple versions of exams. That said, I strongly suspect that students (hopefully not many) have successfully cheated in my classes during my 25+ years of teaching. Clearly, cheating is a major fairness issue; at the same time, the safeguards used to protect students, especially undergradutes, from inaccurate charges of cheating also make sense. Additionally, the short-run benefit that cheating offers certainly is enough to cause some students (hopefully again not many) to do it.
With the increased emphasis that the profession is making on ethics (which I applaud), hopefully one of the issues to be discussed is a reasonable way to provide teachers with some protection from legal retaliation for addressing cheating so long as the consequences are reasonable and the event is not made widely public. If students perceive that cheating is acceptable and faculty have to put themselves at significant risk to address cheating; not only does the university suffer, but the profession eventually as well--a student which succeeds at cheating in college is likely to continue in his/her job, marriage, etc.