Honest students irritated by cheating

January 16, 2011 — by In-depth Board

On a Wednesday in December, junior Sneha Shivkumar’s clock indicates that it’s 2 in the morning, but she could swear that it’s 4. The two goals she scored at her soccer game hours before are faint memories.

Her primary concerns at the moment are twofold: finishing her math homework and maybe getting a few hours of sleep.

Shivkumar is shortly awakened by her alarm clock, and she rushes to get to school. Though her performance in first period is dubious, by break, she has acclimated to the hustle and bustle of campus. Imagine her surprise when, as she makes her way to the locker, a friend taps her on the shoulder and nonchalantly asks her if she can copy her math work. Surprise escalates to frustration when Shivkumar learns that the friend in question slept at a cool 10 the previous night.

“I could have just as easily not done the homework, and copied it off someone else,” Shivkumar said, four days later. “If I can make that sacrifice, other people should too.”

Cheating in school carries a heavy connotation. The term itself conjures a vision of stealing notes, buying essays and hacking teachers’ computers. What many students, as Shivkumar can attest to, don’t realize is that cheating also encompasses acts as innocuous as copying a 5-point assignment.

“I think most people cheat on minor assignments, even though they are the easiest to do legitimately,” said junior Sankash Shankar, who frequently spends his lunches in the library. Indeed, a short walk through the library during lunch will often reveal several students furtively copying friends’ papers.

Junior Annie Barco said that she is accustomed to people asking to copy her homework but shrugs them off.

“Before it was really hard for me to know how to say no to my friends that wanted to copy homework, but I’ve recently learned how to just explain that I’ve taken a lot of time on homework and it wouldn’t be fair if I shared my answers,” Barco said.

Junior Rebecca Smerdon employs a similar technique when friends ask her about tests they will take that she has already completed. “When people ask me what was on a test that I have just taken, I tell them whatever the teacher has already said,” Smerdon said.

When word of test material does get out, there are sweeping implications. Students in later periods often do better than students in earlier periods, thus distorting the difficulty of the test, and robbing students in earlier periods of a lower curve.

“It annoys me when people ask what the homework is or what’s on the test because I spend a lot of time studying and doing homework,” Smerdon said. “If other people did too, they wouldn’t need to cheat.”

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