Monday, February 18, 2013

From the Williams Record. Sent in by Carly from Clarksburg.

Full disclosure. The student who wrote the article below is one of mine.

But my real concern with this issue is the amount of time it takes to comply with whatever sort of academic dishonesty code your college has. As my administration has encouraged us to be more proactive in tracking down cheaters, I'm spending more time on that and less time on actually teaching the students who'd never dream of cheating.

I resent it. I resent the cheaters, and I resent having to follow them along like some poorly prepared Sherlock Holmes.

There is a part of me, that I don't talk about at school, that says, "Let them cheat." I really don't give a crap, because they are cheating themselves only. A single student's grade means nothing to any other student's grade. Our students pay a tremendous amount to go here, and the pressure they face is quite high. I'm convinced that there's not a great deal I can do, yet I keep getting asked (in increasingly frantic emails from administrators) to do more!

I wanna reply, "F*%k it! Find the cheaters yourselves."


Honor in name only

By the end of the year, assuming that the current trend continues, a full 3 percent of the Williams College student body will have been found guilty of academic dishonesty by the Honor and Discipline Committee. If 3 percent sounds like a relatively small portion of our community, think again. Our best guess is that for every case that comes before the Honor and Discipline Committee, there are at least four infractions that go unnoticed.

To put the issue in perspective, the number of cases this past semester alone surpassed the yearly total of cases for every year listed on the Honor and Discipline website; in other words, the rate of infractions has quadrupled. While not every potential case results in a hearing, a full 11 percent of the Williams College faculty have expressed Honor related concerns this past semester.

It is the role of the professor to guide and to teach. Our academic community is cheapened and made less effective when our professors must provide both instruction and detective services.

The Rest.


  1. I'm amazed. I've never known university administrators who have ever even acknowledged that cheaters exist. Yours actually tell you to stop them?

    1. If your administration wants you to catch cheaters, just carry a riding crop into your exam hall. Smack them hard the moment you see them, and grab them by the ears, and haul them off to be dealt with by the administrators who will know exactly what to do with cheaters.

  2. I can think of one approach that would almost certainly eliminate most cheating: eliminate grades. Students do any work they choose to do -- including papers and tests -- solely to learn, and to gain information about their own learning.

    This would, of course, have a number of downsides, and I can't say I really recommend it, but I suspect it would work, if only because a significant proportion of the student population wouldn't do any work whatsoever (and no work=no cheating)

    Barring that, I, too, seesaw back and forth in the "I can't just let them cheat/but is is really my job to keep them from robbing themselves of their own educations?" zone. Assigning idiosyncratic papers and other projects also helps (not only are the students sometimes puzzled by them, at least until I explain/guide them through, they can't find pre-written papers and/or somebody to write the paper, at least not for cheap. Of course, some mothers and girlfriends -- it's never boyfriends, is it? or at least not boyfriends to girls -- work for free. I can't figure out what do to about that one, either.