Academic Honesty at Smith and Beyond
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 22:09
I have heard my parents repeatedly say that it is so much harder to find jobs and get into a university today than it was when they were growing up. It’s true.
While globalization clearly spurs the growth of economies by encouraging foreign trade and investment, there are a number of associated challenges.
The phenomenon of globalization facilitates the export particularly of lower-skilled jobs to the developing world where products can be made less expensively. This leads to a shift in employment opportunities at home and a more competitive job market in which only higher skilled workers are employed.
So where does this leave college students? How about recent graduates with a simple B.A. to their names? It means that there is huge pressure to attain that perfect straight-A transcript that will open doors to graduate schools or simply distinguish us from the millions of students competing for the same jobs.
As the recent Harvard University cheating scandal has shown us, some students will do anything – even risk academic integrity to get that perfect A.
Harvard recently announced that it is investigating allegations that almost half of a 279-person class cheated on their take-home final exams this past May.
Having noticed the similarities in answers, the class professor referred the names of 125 students to the administrative board. According to The New York Times, if students are found to have cheated, they will be asked to withdraw from the college for a year.
But clearly cheating is a problem not just at Harvard. According to Time Magazine, a Rutgers professor found that 62% of college undergraduate students admitted to cheating on exams or papers in a survey conducted from 2010-2011.
Even at Smith we witness cheating in exams and hear stories about plagiarism.
Although Smith has implemented an honor code I have found that it is difficult to sit through a final exam without seeing someone eye and rustle through carefully handwritten cheat-notes placed on their laps. It is unfortunate that some students feel they cannot rely on their own methods of study and preparation for exams, that they must disregard the honor code to achieve that good exam result.
This is not to say academic dishonesty follows directly from globalization, but that global integration has led to a more competitive world. According to Bloomberg’s Businessweek, “depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental health problems students confront.” The American College Counseling Association has found a 37.4 per cent increase in emotional and mental health problems in students in the last 12 years. It is clear that such emotional imbalances are due to the enormous pressure we place on ourselves.
Instead of defining our worthiness based on our transcripts, can’t we find other, academically honest ways to succeed? I sure hope we can.