May The Best Cheater Win Essay








Is honesty

always the best policy? Do you agree with Thomas Jefferson

that "honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom"?2.

What is the most appropriate way for an educational institution



with plagiarism?3.

Is cheating acceptable in your peer group? If so, what rules apply? Viewa film such as

TV Sale (NFB, Media and Society, I).Every youth knows he can get into deep trouble by stealing cameras, peddling dope, mugging winos, forging cheques, or copying someone else'sanswers during an exam. Those are examples of not playing by the rules.Cheating. But every youth also knows that in organized sports across NorthAmerica, cheating is not only perfectly okay, it's

recommended. "

The structure of sport. . . actually promotes deviance," says U.S. sport sociologistD.S. Eitzen.The downy-cheeked hockey player who refuses to play dirty may findhimself fired off the team. The boy soccer player who refuses to rough up asuperior striker to "throw him off his game" may find himself writhingunder a coach's tongue-lashing. The basketball player who refuses to foul agoal-bound enemy star in the last seconds of a close game may find himself riding the bench next week. Thus, we have that cynical paradox, "the goodfoul," a phrase that makes about as much sense as "a beneficial outbreak of bubonic plague."If organized sports offer benefits to youngsters, they also offer a massiveprogram of moral corruption. The recruiting of college athletes in the UnitedStates, and the use of academic fraud to maintain their "eligibility," stunk sopowerfully in 1980 that


decided "cheating has become the nameof the game," and spoke of the fear on U.S. campuses of "an epidemic of corruption." But the epidemic had already arrived, and what really worriedNewsweek was national acceptance of corruption as normal: "Many kids areadmitting that they have tried to take the bribes and inducements on thesleazy terms with which they are offered. Their complaints are not so much

 And May The Best Cheater Win • 35

Fans, alumni, coaches, college administrators, players, and their parents allbelieved nothing could ever be more important than winning (or moredisgraceful than losing), and that cheating in victory's cause was thereforecommendable."Candidates for big-time sport's Hall of Shame have seemed suddenly tobreak out all over like an ugly rash," William Oscar Johnson wrote last yearIn

Sports Illustrated.

He constructed a dismal catalogue of assaults on cops,drunken brawls, adventures in the cocaine trade, credit-card frauds, andother sordid activities by rich professional athletes who, in more naivelimes, might have earned the adulation of small boys. Jim Finks, thenChicago Bears general manager, speculated that the trouble with the youngerlawbreakers was that they had "been looked after all the way from juniorhigh school. Some of them have had doctored grades. This plus theaffluence [astronomical salaries] means there has never been any pressingneed for them to work things out for themselves. They have no idea how toface reality."• No one in all their lives had taught them about fair play. "In the early daysof playground and high-school leagues, one of the key issues was moralregulation," says Alan Ingham, a teacher at the University of Washington."You got sports, and you got Judeo-Christian principles thrown in, too."Now, however, "the majority of things taught in sports are performancethings." John Pooley of the School of Recreation, Physical and Health Education at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, asked Calvin Hill, a former DallasCowboy, what percentage of all the football rookies he'd ever met had saidthat, as college players, they'd encountered no cheating. Hill's reply wasshort: "None."So here we have the most powerful nation in the world, and it blithelycorrupts children so they'll mature as athletic machines without an ounce of the moral sense that might prevent their sniffing cocaine or complicate theirlust for victory. Pray for nuclear disarmament, fans.


Still, Canadians are little better. We all know who invented the game thatinspired Paul Newman to star in

Slap Shot,

a black and bloody comedy aboutbutchery on ice. We can't argue that it's only American coaches who teachpeewees to draw tripping penalties rather than let an enemy player continuea breakaway on your goal. Moreover, I happen to live in Halifax, where onlylast winter St. Mary's University was disgraced for allowing a ringer fromFlorida to play varsity basketball. The coach of a rival but inferior teamferreted out the truth about the player's ineligibility. In doing so, he importedone of the fine old traditions of amateur sports in the States: if you can't beatthem, hire a private dick. Oh well, that's what universities are supposed tobe all about: the pursuit of truth.Pursuing another truth, Pooley of Dalhousie surveyed recent graduates of 

By Janis Prince Inniss

As you head into finals, are you planning to cheat? Just enough to pass your class? Or to get an A? Just enough to boost your grade a tad? Should the likelihood—or not—that you will get caught impact whether or not you cheat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the majority, as 61 percent of undergraduate college students admit to cheating.

Academic dishonesty is on my mind because I’ve just read a troubling account in the Chronicle of Higher Education of a “shadow scholar”: someone who makes a living writing papers, theses, and exams for college students and entrance essays for those seeking to enter universities. I’ve long been aware that this service exists and I have worked with at least one person whose ignorance suggested that his doctorate was obtained with the services of such a person, but it was still chilling to read details about this person’s work.

Also in the news is the case of University of Central Florida Professor Richard Quinn. Comparing data between his summer and fall classes, Professor Quinn noticed that the fall class scored about one and a half letter grade higher than his summer class—a first in ten years teaching this capstone business course. Professor Quinn received an anonymous tip that about a third of his 600 students had made use of a test bank (which has answers!).

The professor has been receiving some publicity for his speech to students detailing the violation; he offered amnesty to cheaters who confessed and agreed to take an ethics seminar. In the speech, the professor describes himself as “physically ill” and “absolutely disgusted” by the cheaters. Meantime, his assistants have recreated the midterm—without the aid of test banks—and every student in the course was required to retake it.

Here is an interview of one of the students who says that he thought he was reviewing a study guide, and therefore had no idea that he was cheating.  

Researchers conclude that students cheat because their peers do. As they point out, today’s students face a highly competitive world and try to take every advantage to receive top grades. In this context, recognizing that their peers are cheating and reaping the benefits of good grades without the requisite work, students do not want to be, or feel, that they are at a disadvantage. As earlier researchers in this field pointed out, social learning theory helps us make sense of this: we model our behavior based on what we observe. If “everyone is doing it’, then it’s normal, right?

Universities continue to try to outwit students bent on cheating their way through college. In fact, the same university at which Professor Quinn teaches was the subject of a New York Times article on the high tech ways to colleges are attempting to thwart would-be cheats. Of course, one of the issues that we expect will impact cheating is faculty response to the problem. I received my first clue that faculty do not necessarily respond as they should or could when I was a teaching assistant in graduate school. I discovered that two students had plagiarized large passages of a book in their term papers. The passages were lifted straight out of the assigned readings! I expected that the professor would be as outraged as I was—both at the offense and that the students didn’t even bother to find books they thought we were unfamiliar with from which to copy. As I recall, the university policy was that cheating students would receive an “F” in the course and possibly face other disciplinary proceedings.

So what did the professor do to the culprits? He gave them each a “C” and the case did not go to the university administration. So while some of us bemoan the lack of student effort to match the demands for a good grade, many faculty and university administration —either directly or indirectly—are complicit in this game. If faculty look away at student cheating—as happened with the professor and the two plagiarists—what message does that send to students? And if department chairs and university administration over-rule faculty who drop the ax on students, what message does that send to students? Like other entities, universities are conscious not to offend their ‘customers’ and many will do anything but upset their students, including condoning cheating.

There are many other relevant issues that are worth their own discussion so keep an eye on the blog for related posts. Meantime, some issues to consider: If and when you cheat in class, who are you cheating? Yourself ? Society? Your parents? Your classmates? Ultimately, are you cheating yourself of an education, and if so what does that mean?

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