The war on academic dishonestyrequires battles on several fronts

Mercury Editorial

Editor’s Note: Following is an editorial of The Mercury’s editorial board. The Editorial Board consists of the newspaper’s management team (editor-in-chief, managing editor, section editors, advertising manager and copy editor). The editorial board will discuss, debate and develop editorial positions on issues affecting the UTD community as needed. We welcome your responses.

Double the number of students were caught for cheating this year and as a burgeoning Tier-1 university, we cannot allow it to continue.

We implore the administration to place an honor code on the front of every exam taken on this campus and implement other effective methods to deter cheaters in the first place. While we understand that signing a contract must be voluntary for legal reasons, it will force students to seriously consider the possible legal consequences of cheating.

There are larger issues at work, too.

When a student cheats his or her way through four years of college, the quality of every other student’s degree in that university is decreased. When he or she goes for a job interview and the employer finds the graduate has not attained the skills implicit with his or her degree, then it is a likely assumption by the employer that cheating was involved. We cannot allow this to happen.

A reputation like this penalizes the vast majority of students at UTD who work hard for their honest grades.

Additionally, we call on professors to closely monitor students during the entire time the test is in progress. It does not take much effort to at least watch students as they take an exam. The use of assigned seating or a check-in/check-out procedure when testing large classes would also help curb students’ ability to cheat.

We support the 2002 report from the faculty subcommittee on academic integrity that recommends futher steps to ensure a preventative rather than reactive approach to academic dishonesty.

Training teaching assistants as proctors, creating a testing center, organizing class rolls to easily facilitate check-in/check-out and making forms to report cheating easily accessible will eliminate many of the opportunities cheaters currently capitalize on.

The value of a diploma rests squarely on the reputation of a university among employers and other professionals. Besides the difficulty graduates might have finding a job as a result, the repercussions to the future of the university itself must also be considered.

If outsiders think UTD students cheat, then they will keep their projects, grants and jobs well clear of campus.

UTD will never be able to grow without exciting research opportunities to entice top graduate students. Neither will the school earn the notoriety it deserves unless it continues to employ distinguished professors and cultivate ground-breaking programs. A solid reputation is essential to continue on the path university administrators envision.

The truth is that those who work hard and honestly at UTD earn an exemplary education. The professors bring both academic and real-world experience into the classroom, and the course offerings are cutting-edge across the board. It is unacceptable that those who are unable to rise to these daunting challenges are allowed to graduate from UTD and diminish the superior quality of instruction that goes on here.

The UTD administration must do more to make students think twice about cheating or plagiarizing. It is imperative for the success of this institution – as a respected center of learning – that the administration, faculty, staff and the student body uphold the highest standards of academic integrity.

The editorial board voted 3-0 in favor of this opinion.

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