Cheating at Baruch surprisingly common
Published: Saturday, September 30, 2006
Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009 02:02
In a generation that grew up on computers and cell phones, it does not come as a surprise that some students cheat in very high-tech ways. Although Baruch's policy on academic dishonesty is clear on the fact that it will not tolerate cheating, students definitely still do it-maybe just more slyly.
Professors have to make a choice whether they want to involve the Office of the Dean of Students when a student is found guilty of cheating. They can informally resolve the problem or formally have the Dean of Students contact the student in question. All professors have to file a Faculty Report Form when they suspect a student of academic dishonesty, but not all follow this procedure.
Filing the report ensures that there is a record of the incident in case the students cheat again. In many cases, however, the student is a first time offender. Dean of Students, Ron Aaron, says that 75 to 100 students are referred to the office per semester and most of the cases concern plagiarism. With over 90 percent of the students never being referred to them again, it seems that after their first offense, most people learn their lesson.
For those students that are lucky enough to simply get an 'F' on that assignment or are asked by professors to redo it, the punishment and the lesson may not stick. Furthermore, some students at Baruch don't see anything wrong with cheating as long as they are able to get away with it. Cheaters use methods ranging from the "old" technique of simply writing a tiny note and hiding it in their calculator, to more high-tech methods such as text messaging. Yes, cheating is still alive and well at Baruch. However, with cheating not being as blatantly obvious as it was in high school where everyone admitted to doing it without a care, in college people expect more of their peers.
"I haven't seen people cheat in college. It's about being mature. You grow out of it and become more honest," says senior Laura Betancur. Like Betancur, many students have heard about others that cheat, but haven't really witnessed it. Many certainly believe that when you start college, you grow out of cheating and simply study for exams now that you are paying tuition. Betancur agrees that in high school "everyone did it," but since joining the college community she says she would be surprised to see it.
Professor of philosophy, Bernard Roy, says that he has come across plagiarism in his classes, but not blatant cheating, such as smuggling notes. It seems that students feel more pressure when it comes to writing term papers than exams. With plagiarism having such a wide range of definitions, many students don't even know that they plagiarize until it's too late. "I ask students why they did it and, depending on how important the paper is, they [may be given an] 'F'. Some don't even realize that they plagiarize," he says. This is true of many students that either get lazy and copy things off the Internet or simply write what they remember without citations. With many professors taking the first day of class as a day to instruct them on policies and the definition of plagiarism, many can't use the excuse of not knowing anymore.
Often times professors that don't proctor exams closely are the reason why some students are compelled to be dishonest. "The worse the teacher, the worse the cheating," says Brandon Sloan, a senior and member of Alpha Phi Delta National Fraternity. Many students just like him feel that if a professor does not proctor at all, more students will cheat in class.
For some, the difference between failing and passing a class depends on cheating, and they feel certain about what they will do. Rather than sacrificing an extra semester or year, some students are willing to take the risk. Stricter policies don't seem to have helped solve the problem with cheaters either. A permanent committee is in place, with both professors and students, and more can join the fight against academic dishonesty. An online tutorial is also available to help students deal with plagiarism and understand it better. Since last spring, five students have received failing grades and have been suspended from school, which shows that Baruch takes academic dishonesty seriously.
Dean Aaron says, "We're talking about changing a culture … some students will do anything to stay at the top of the pack." He also mentions that, surprisingly enough, most students referred to the office are those with higher grades. It seems as though those who cheat will continue until they are caught and actually reprimanded for the behavior. At Baruch steps are being taken to do so and to educate students about the behavior.