We are constantly hearing about the secret and dishonest trend of plagiarism and cheating in college. In order to stem the rising tide of plagiarism, Miami University’s academic integrity subcommittee of the First in 2009 campaign has suggested the implementation of further proactive measures to head off plagiaristic tendencies amongst students. The editorial board of The Miami Student believes that these proposed preventative measures-which include an application essay based on academic honesty, a first-year class on plagiarism and orientation activities on the subject-are not the best use of resources and time to combat the problem. As our features story reports, many students are already aware of what constitutes (and the penalties of) academic dishonesty.
This board believes that adding additional means of informing students about plagiarism will only set their educational development back-not only will students have to trade-off time between actual academic pursuits and these dishonesty classes, but adding mandatory online elements to a new student’s preparatory work only increases the burden. We believe that these active measures to prevent cheating are flawed, and instead more (and continued) emphasis should be placed on instilling a culture of honesty, creating assignments that err toward mandating individual work and idea generation and using existing software-such as Turn It In-to ensure academic honesty.
Additionally, penalties are strict enough now that the deterrent factor exists-it’s not a question of lacking the knowledge of what dishonesty is (although there may be cases where students are not aware of the need for proper citation, we doubt this is the prevailing case of academic dishonesty), but of what may be characterized as student apathy. Thus, if we truly feel that plagiarism is a growing problem at Miami, a true attitude change of the student body should be the goal. And the best way to do this is to integrate the discussion into pre-existing situations, making students apply their knowledge of academic integrity and holding students accountable for their individual work. Instead of promoting programs before the school year starts, academic honesty programs should be integrated with ENG 111 classes to seamlessly build up a student’s knowledge of proper working ethics. Accordingly, ENG11 professors can also monitor student’s writing skills and papers by requiring multiple drafts. Student’s continual submissions will allow the professor to have a grasp of their writing style and be able to check more easily for plagiarism.
It is our core belief that students should learn the ways of honesty through direct application of proper practices within their classes, and not in isolated instances prior to the school year. Additionally, just because you write an application essay on academic honesty does not mean that you’ll actually learn anything about the subject-in fact, we may even run into a problem of incoming students plagiarizing these essays. Instead of meaningless rhetoric taught by a tutorial, there needs to be greater professor-student interaction accompanied by a change in the student body’s attitude.