Academic integrity failed by faculty judgment

By defaultuser
October 10, 2002

Professors who ignore the Academic Honesty Policy by handling plagiarism cases in their own manner are disgracing the academic integrity of the college. Instead of following the policy set forth in the student handbook, which calls for confidentiality and measures to avoid conflict of interest, professors make deals under the table to save students.

Although it is a kind gesture by the professors, it raises more questions than answers.

For instance, Student Joe makes the conscious decision to take the easy way out, to plagiarize. One professor catches Joe in the act and approaches him with the Academic Honesty Violation Charge Form, as the policy orders. But Joe, a crafty student capable of sad eyes, convinces the professor that this is a one-time deal. The professor empathizes with the student and solely decides to fail the plagiarized work but not submit the violation to the academic affairs office. Joe escapes relatively unpunished, considering the actual rules of the policy.

Joe strikes again. This time a different professor catches him and handles the academic crime in the same manner as the first professor.

The trend continues and Student Joe continues to run free without original thoughts and without punishment. To make matters worse, his classmate, Student Sally, spent three sleepless nights working on the same assignments, turned in original work and failed just the same.

Professors that do not follow the Academic Honesty Policy make themselves vulnerable to issues of favoritism, too. The policy does not judge popular students, involved students, student athletes or any other type of student that may be favored or disfavored. Professors, human and subjective, could treat a case for an athlete differently from a case involving a quiet commuter. Is the bias decision the fault of the professor? For forming an opinion of a student based reputation, no. For not following policy and failing to set a true and honest example for students who are supposed to be true and honest, yes.

The college must work to stop repeat offenders from cruising through four years of valuable education without original thoughts by enforcing the policy and punishing students equally and in an unbiased manner, case by case. If the college continues to ignore the issue, it will not only be cheating students unwilling to put forth effort but students who struggle to find their own words honestly.

It is absolutely unfair for professors to enforce the Academic Honesty Policy based on their on discretion. Perhaps professors should be penalized for not following the rules, too.

Of course, this argument is moot if students avoid plagiarism in the first place. In no way will plagiarism benefit the future of students. If students cannot think on their own now, we hope that they don’t expect to be able to perform in the future.

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