An ethical dilemma (or, trusting the internets to give me answers)

17 Nov

I need some help.  I’m pretty sure I know what I want to do about this particular problem, but I’d like some input.

Here’s the deal: I am 90% sure I witnessed another student in my class cheating.

It was quiz time. I had finished and turned in my quiz. I was looking around the room to see how many people were still working on their quizzes. Right next to me, there’s this girl and she’s looking over at her friend and, with her hand in front of her mouth is asking her things. And the friend is responding with some words that sounded like “Yeah, I think she meant…” and “Well, that’s what I put…”

This pissed me off. But I couldn’t be sure she was asking her friend for help, so I let it go. I continued to try and listen to see if her friend was, indeed feeding her answers. I decide to give her the benefit of doubt and assume that no, she wasn’t cheating or asking her friend for help. I mean really, who would do that so blatantly?

Right about this time our guest speaker walks in and our teacher starts talking to her. The cheating girl gets up, and puts her quiz in the pile of completed quizzes. I watch as she goes back to her desk, sits down and opens up her notebook to look at her notes and at the essay we were just quizzed on. She says a curse word, looks over at the teacher and sees that she’s engaged with the guest speaker, gets up, goes over to the stack of completed quizzes, pulls out her quiz from the stack, and starts furiously writing something.

I can’t not watch, because HOLY SHIT, this girl is cheating right in front of the whole entire class. I spent the whole class debating what to do. I started to stay behind in class to talk to the teacher, but didn’t because the girl in question was hanging back as well.

So what do I do?

Do I turn this girl in? And if so, how? I don’t know her name, only that she sits near me each class. Plus, if I tell the teacher, and if the teacher decides to pursue the issue, this girl could very well get kicked out of the university. Do I really want to be responsible for that? Also, if I turn her in does that make me a huge tattle-tell or just someone full of integrity and who honors the Honor Code?

Or, do I turn a blind eye to something I know is wrong? Do I let well enough alone and assume that karma will eventually get the best of this girl? Do I wait and see if it happens again, or just ignore the whole issue? And if I do ignore it, doesn’t that mean that I’m violating the Honor Code as well?

Internets! HALP!

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6 Responses to “An ethical dilemma (or, trusting the internets to give me answers)”

  1. Kyla Roma November 17, 2009 at 6:04 PM #

    Thanks for finding my blog! This is a hard one, I think that if you feel strongly about this you could flag your teacher to their behavior so they can be on the look out, but unless they’re caught in the act of plagiarism they can’t do anything about this last quiz.

    The other thing to consider though is that it sounds like they’re (ahem) as dumb as posts. If you can catch them cheating across the room, they won’t be able to hold up to the essays, tests, and teachers who don’t allow conference calls during quizzes. I don’t think karma will catch them- I think their own tactics will.

    Good luck, let us know what you do!

  2. Margaret November 17, 2009 at 6:29 PM #

    Report her

  3. san November 17, 2009 at 7:06 PM #

    I would probably let it go this time. Not that I completely agree with you that what she did is wrong, but a) how are you going to prove it?, b) how do you make sure that you don’t look like a tattle-tell?

    I would keep an eye on her though. And I do think that if this is the way she gets by in College, she’ll sooner or later fail on her own her own behalf.

  4. Nicki Fellenzer November 17, 2009 at 8:03 PM #

    I would let it go this time and not tell the professor. BUT, I would also confront her directly and tell her you saw what she did, and if you see her doing it again, you will report her. That way she’s on notice that such behavior won’t be tolerated.

    Just a thought.

    BTW – check your AKO. I sent you a message there.

  5. Liv November 18, 2009 at 6:41 PM #

    Wow, that’s a tough place to be in.

    You could just let your professor know in an informant way what you saw.

    Tell her, that you can’t be completely positive what happened, and can’t provide proof, but this is how it happened.

    Let your professor know you don’t want to rock the boat, so you would like to keep it confidential, but wanted her to be aware of what was going on when her back was turned. But it upset you enough to let her know – on an integrity purpose.

    This covers your back, you did what you can do. And were able to express your frustration. The Prof can decide what to do from there.

    Just my two cents =)

  6. Alverna November 18, 2009 at 10:52 PM #

    I think my decision would rest, at least a little, on how well I knew the prof. If she knows you well enough to know who you are, it gives you a little credibility in her eyes.

    Anyway, I would talk to the prof and let her know that you witnessed a classmate cheating on a quiz. Tell her you just want to do the responsible thing by letting her know so that she can do what she needs to with the information. Then let her response to this info determine how the conversation goes. If she asks you to identify the person, it probably means she has a reason for needing to know that info…i.e. she can do something with it. If she thanks you and sends you on your way…well, you’ve done your duty and obviously it means that she can’t do much except keep a better eye on things and/or recruit some proctors for the final.

    Good luck! I think either choice is honorable.

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