Cheating on campus perpetuates itself

January 16, 2011 — by In-depth board

“I relly [sic] need this...or else im [sic] gonna [sic] fail,” reads the first of a flurry of text messages sent by a student to a Falcon reporter during a test during a recent period. An undertone of desperation is present in each text message, and judging by the increasing number of exclamation points in each one, the student is clearly expecting a reply.

The Falcon later interviewed the student in question. He was, at first, reluctant to discuss his dishonest habits but finally gave in after being guaranteed anonymity.

When asked about what motivates him to cheat, the student pointed to a general climate of academic dishonesty at the school.

“If everyone cheats and I don’t, then I’ll be the odd one out,” he said. “It’s a level playing field because everyone does it.”

A survey conducted by the Falcon indicated rampant cheating on campus—over 70 percent of the more than 500 respondents said they had cheated at least once in their high school career. A quarter of them indicated that they cheated in school on a regular basis, citing the pervasiveness of cheating as the main reason. Parental pressure rang in as a close second.

One respondent wrote, “If I don’t get an [sic] good grade, then my parents will make my life miserable.”

The root of the problem seems to be that many students do not consider many forms of cheating unethical, despite the assembly that the administration holds for every grade level at the start of each year outlining the different forms of cheating.

Cheating has gone from being the exception to becoming the rule, according to many. More often than not, students will copy a homework assignment, flip through their iPhones during a test, or pass out test questions in return for homework they haven’t gotten to.

The survey also showed that the majority of students believe that cheating is a part of school, just as studying and preparing for tests is essential to ensure a better grade. One student said, “The thing with cheating is everyone does it. It’s not even immoral if you don’t do it. In fact, it’s stupid if you don’t. You fall behind.”

As teachers crack down on cheating, some students have found a new way to cope with the situation. Become better cheaters.

“Cheating takes skill. It might seem funny, but it really does,” said the same student. “It is a way to beat the system, and tons of people put more effort into cheating than they would into homework. [Cheating] just requires less brainpower.”

Some disagree with the practice, but only when it interferes with their own grades.

“I hate when people cheat on tests, but don’t care about it on homework,” said another anonymous student. “It takes a couple minutes to do homework so it’s not like they are gaining an edge. But if you are dumb enough to cheat on a test, you are dumb enough to get caught. That’s what I think.”

But most people at the school remain bystanders in the issue. Whether they cheat or not, they just accept it as part of the culture.

“Cheating is old news. It’s like smoking weed. It happens. Get over it,” he said.

Math and child psychology teacher Laressa Ridge has gone from being concerned and disappointed to being outright annoyed with the amount of cheating at the school.

“Cheating is not only unfair to students, it is troublesome for teachers as well,” she said.

Ridge acknowledges that there is a group of students who refuse to cheat and thinks they will be better off in the end. She hopes that those who choose not to follow the rules are cognizant of the immorality of cheating.

“The problem with cheating is the ethical dilemma. Students who cheat have to live with the fact that they don’t deserve the grade they got,“ she said.

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