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Point, counter point on cheating

The one universal truth
The one universal truth

The reason why people cheat

Article: Michael Chmielewski – Editor-in-chief

Surely everyone’s seen it at one point or another. The cell phone, little pieces of paper, or whatever the newer methods are. Cheating is prevalent at universities, and the U of R is no exception.

Cheating makes a degree at the U of R worth much less. There needs to be an orchestrated effort to prevent cheating at our institution, and this can be done in multiple ways. This includes an honour code, stricter penalties for those caught, and initiating a sense of duty amongst the U of R community that cheating is wrong, and only serves to tarnish the halls of this university.

An honour code, as in one that a student would sign before every test, or something like that, would have a direct psychological impact on the student. It reminds them, right before cheating, that it is wrong, that it is a betrayal to the institution, and of their fellow classmates. These honour codes also require other students to report cheating. If Elysia sees Alex cheating, then Elysia can no longer say “it’s not my problem, or it doesn’t affect me.” The imperative is on Elysia to report Alex, because if she doesn’t, she’s as guilty as the cheater.

Stricter penalties would act as a deterrence for cheating. If a student caught cheating is put to the sword and kicked out of university (with proof, of course), or at least fails the course, other potential cheaters would be deterred. That cheater would also learn a valuable life lesson.

A sense of duty is probably the hardest to initiate, since it is not as tangible as the other methods. Whether or not this starts from the top or bottom of the institution, it’s not clear. The best way, arguably, is to initiate the last two methods, and other measures, such as workshops, or information for first years etc.

After all of this, as bad as cheating is, what would be better is to actually remove the sources of cheating, and to understand its root cause.

Only a small percentage of students cheat because they are dishonest. Most who cheat face other pressures: the pressure to succeed, the pressure of running out of time, the pressure of not having the prerequisite skills for tackling a university program, the pressure of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on university only to potentially fail, pressure from parents, pressure from peers, pressure from professors, and many others. This is why students cheat, and honestly I can truly sympathize. At points this year, I’ve had so much to do, with school and work, sometimes more work magically appears, I haven’t slept a wink in days, and the thought just pops into my mind. I quickly suppress it, but it gave me new insight. Our fellow students cheat because they don’t know what else to do, and it is a function of the stressed brain to attempt. This kind of stress is not normal.

So, dear student, if you have thought about cheating, or have cheated, just remember that there are other options. Take fewer classes, prioritize, sleep, explain your difficulties to your prof, talk to your friends, start working harder at things (if you already don’t) and after all that, realize that things are going to be okay.

Image: Farron Ager

About Michael Chmielewski

I am a 4th political science student who loves reading, writing, studying languages, reporting, playing music (metal, if you got it), conversation, amongst many other eclectic interests. Proud to be in my second year as Editor-in-Chief of the Carillon, and even more proud of the amazing staff that I work with. Festina Lente.