untar614 wrote:So because you don't feel it's common enough on a proportional level, then if anyone is falsely accused of academic dishonesty, then fuck them?
And yes, again, I admit some of the stuff on that site is a bit off.
No, not saying fuck them, just trying to provide context for adcomms' reactions to addendums about academic dishonesty issues. If there were a general perception that there are significant widespread problems with people being accused unfairly, I could see approaching an addendum differently, but since I don't think it is common on a systemic level, I don't think that perception exists, and that's what should shape how you write an addendum. Honestly, if an individual school (say UVA) is notorious for screwing people over in this context, adcomms are probably aware of those concerns.
Here's the thing, too: an addendum is only part of the application. I think the best way to address something like you're raising is to have someone else do it for you. Using the OP's situation as an example, they could have a prof at Harvard write a letter of recommendation that explains what happened in this cheating scandal and why the prof believes the penalty doesn't really fit the OP's culpability. This can be a little tricky to negotiate, but I think it's a much better solution than the OP trying to explain why it wasn't as bad as it looks.
(Full disclosure: I used to teach college and dealt with a lot of plagiarism crap, and there are a lot of students who probably did think it was unfair that they were dinged for what was blatant academic dishonesty.)
As for the "maintaining their claim of innocence" bit - this is again all about context. When you're trying to convince a school to admit you is not the time to go into this. It's kind of like how if a convicted felon is trying to get parole, it's not the time for them to maintain their claim of innocence, either. (NOT saying academic dishonesty = felony, just an analogy.)