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The Blue & Gray Press | February 24, 2018

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Cracking the code

By ADAM STERGIS photo-1

The concept of honor strongly respected by many educational facilities. It is often paired with touchy subjects, such as cheating, stealing, and lying.

Many of these terms can spell out incredibly serious consequences, including expulsion from the very college that one spent so much time and effort trying to gain acceptance. Colleges conduct entire ceremonies solely dedicated to the topic of honor and how deeply it is rooted into the school’s very philosophy on education.

Obviously, honor is naturally something to be concerned with when in an educational setting, but what does the term actually mean to students in the context of cheating? While many people see cheating as despicable behavior would never engage in such a dishonest act, cheating is far more commonplace than one would suspect. Certain circumstances may inherently illicit higher rates of cheating.

In an article published by The Boston Globe, James M. Lang suggests an increase of seminars and assemblies during freshman year of college are not necessarily making the dent in college cheating that it intends to make. Additionally, he stresses that perhaps the concept of general education classes are only pushing the desire to cheat even further.

Say a student that intends to major in biology has to fulfill a general education requirement in an English or history class.

The notion that the class is essentially an obstacle keeping students from immersing themselves wholly into their desired major is realistically common, and may very well direct students toward cheating in order to put the class behind them with as little effort as possible. It is the structure of general education requirements, Lang proposes, that may very well be a leading cause in the desensitization of cheating, particularly in lecture classes that consist of only three exams.

With the stakes so high on a class that is potentially irrelevant to a student’s interest, the option of cheating may seem appealing.

Even reputable universities such as Harvard are not without the presence of cheating. Simon Moya-Smith reported for NBC News that 42 percent of freshman enrolled in the world-famous college admitted to cheating on homework an email survey.

This statistic could be a result of Harvard students succumbing to the pressures of being enrolled in such a prestigious university, or one could see it as the students having a somewhat strong sense of honor in wanting to own up to their actions and admit they were cheating.

In many cases, such as the University of Mary Washington Honor Code, the duty of enforcing and reporting dishonest behavior falls upon the student body. This phenomenon of admitting dishonesty at Harvard could be an example of students fulfilling their duties under their own code of honor.

This is an issue that educational institutions still have room to improve on. The option to take classes as pass/fail certainly relieves some of the stress that seemingly irrelevant general education classes may cause, but is it enough?

With the looming concept of “the future” and working a steady job being closer than ever before in schooling, the incentive to cheat and get good grades proves to be all too tempting for many.