Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Pens for Hire

I just watched this story on the Feed.

One of the major themes of the story concerned students paying impersonators to sit for their university exams.

Now, I can't remember exactly the words Peter McCallum of USyd used but they were words to the following effect:

"We need to engrain a culture within students such that they champion this notion that cheating is something we just don't do."

I agree. But this is no answer to the problem at hand!

In my (largely "unlearned") view, a majority of all university students probably already agree with this philosophy that says cheating is wrong.

However what this view fails to appreciate is that, on one hand, while most students would accept that cheating is wrong, it is probably more accurate to say that cheating, whilst undesirable, is actually a last resort for many.

That is, your typical student would say: "If my life depends on it, I'll cheat if I have to even though I know it is wrong."

I would even go so far as to say that, any one of us, no matter how good our intentions are, or no matter how noble our values are, could easily fall into the trap of cheating.

When a student is put into a dark corner - now the reasons for this could be numerous: family problems, financial difficulties, health, pressure etc - it is my strong view that even the best and most altruistic of us (for lack of better terms) would probably be consumed by the temptation to cheat when push comes to shove.

Yes, we all start off with lofty ideals of fairness and justice.

Yes, we are generally "good people" (whatever that means).

However when our livelihood, pride or finances are on the line - when say the cost of retaking another subject is all too much for a student (especially an international student who has to pay 3 to 4 times the fee of a domestic student) - caving in to cheating is more realistic than universities probably care to admit.

I realise I am being repetitive but my point is that we are all prone to temptation. Including myself.

Not one of us is immune to its lure.

So if the universities want to do something about it, they cannot merely leave it to this lofty notion of "culture" which is subject to the weakness of man - they must do something much more than that.

Andre Lim

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