In a recent post, I discussed my frustration with cheating at academic institutions. Surprisingly, the very next week, I discovered a student cheating on a midterm exam. Talk about bad timing on this student’s part. I can’t get into details of the situation, but I wanted to mention that I had the option of just giving the student a failing grade and leaving it at that. I chose to not only do that, but also to follow through with a formal complaint, accusing the student of violating SCSU’s Student Code of Conduct. So far, it has required me to write a detailed explanation of the events surrounding the incident of cheating. I’m not sure how far the process will go, or what decision will be made. I know that if a student disputes a charge, it goes to a formal judicial board hearing, and I would have to spend a few hours of my day going through that. I can’t imagine the student disputing the charge, since this time I had solid evidence. But I wonder what punishment will befall the student if they just plead guilty and beg for mercy. Will someone in Student Affairs decide that a failing grade is punishment enough? Will the student be suspended? If the student does not like that option, will they pursue a judicial board hearing and hope the sentence imposed by the board is better than the one already offered? I’ll keep you posted and provide more details in the future when I can.
I’m making a stand here on principle. If the problem is that students cheat and professors do nothing about it because it’s a difficult process, then the solution is for professors to bite the bullet and do what’s right, not what’s convenient. So I’m doing what’s right — to protect the integrity of the university, and to protect all of my students who don’t cheat. If I were an honest student who didn’t cheat, that’s what I would want to be done.