By Caden Wilson
Sunday night is usually the busiest night of the average college student’s weekend. Whether Friday and Saturday are for friends and family, homework isn’t always put first. By the time the early hours of Monday morning roll around, people can get desperate and cheat.
Three-hundred and thirty-six current students and 62 members of the faculty responded to an anonymous Almanian survey, in which 16 percent of the students stated they had cheated, plagiarized, or copied other’s work at least once. Of the faculty, 84 percent confirmed having caught a student cheating.
Response from the student survey summed up three major categories explaining why students cheat.
Primarily, there are the students who were concerned about the negative effects of a low grade on their GPA. In response to the survey, some students stated that they had cheated as a result of being in a prerequisite class or class that wasn’t required for their major.
As a result, they simply needed the class to fill a credit to graduate and placed importance only on their letter grade. For many campus programs and groups, it is important for members to maintain a certain GPA, resulting in many students using alternative methods to inflate their grades.
Some responses stated that cheating had been the result of an information gap, where students claimed either that the questions on tests were more difficult than the covered material or simply hadn’t ever been addressed by the professor.
In an anonymous response to the survey, several professors stated that while students may be put into a position where cheating is tempting, it is ultimately their choice to break student conduct policies.
“They are pushed to the limit, often in terms of time and stress, and just want to, or need to, get the assignment done in a hurry. They willingly take the risk of being caught and either don’t think they will or don’t care if they do,” said one faculty member.
On the other hand, some students admitted that often it was simply a matter of what was easier. While a few simply didn’t study or do the assigned work, many others felt so overwhelmed with their homework that they felt it was their only option.
Roughly one-third of all student responses stated that they did not have time to complete the assignment they cheated on, in addition to other reasons.
No responding faculty believed that there was any time where cheating would be acceptable.
Cheating and plagiarism are covered by the college’s Academic Dishonesty policy. This also includes the act of assisting someone in doing either, which 30 percent of the surveyed students admitted to doing. Students who are caught cheating face consequences designated by the provost, which may result in failing the class in question or even a hearing with the campus conduct committee, which could lead to expulsion.
A minority of faculty members believed that punishments for cheating should increase in severity, encompassing 46 percent of those surveyed. 52 percent believed that the current system is effective as is and 2 percent of the questioned faculty agreed that punishments should be less severe, with most agreeing that the punishment should be based on the actions of the student in question.
“Can there be situations where a professor makes unreasonable demands of their students? Absolutely!,” said Steuard Jensen of the physics department.
“We’re human, we’re enthusiastic about our subjects, and we can misjudge things. We probably misjudge things more often than we’d like to admit. But those are reasons for a student to contact the professor about the issue and look for some way of resolving it.
“As a professor, I’ve definitely made changes to assignments after conversations like that, often for everyone in the class. Nothing that a professor can do is worth giving up your honor for.”