- The Washington Times - Monday, August 18, 2014


One form of cheating in school has been around forever.

“Hey, I don’t have last night’s homework. Can I copy yours?”

Another old favorite entails whispering across the aisle during a test: “Psst, what’s the answer to No. 5?”

The student who neglects to complete his work or properly prepare for an exam might have a good excuse for being in that situation. But those remedies are all wrong. Meanwhile, the other pupil faces a moral crossroad, with the option to bail him out or let him sink.

When classmates are caught in the act of accepting or offering lifelines, the consequence should be identical.

“If two students want to share the same work, then they can share the same grade,” says my lovely wife, Vanessa, a 15-year veteran teacher who gives both participants an ‘F’ under those circumstances. Her approach, not uncommon among educators, is included in some schools’ official code of conduct.

We have no idea how often such peer-to-peer assistance goes undetected in education. But it’s a good bet that athletes are involved when cases come to light on college campuses. Academic cheating can have devastating effects on athletic departments, leading to postseason bans, loss of scholarships and vacated wins.

Notre Dame football players DaVaris Daniels, KeiVarae Russell, Ishaq Williams and Kendall Moore are being held out of practices and games while the school investigates possible academic fraud. The school received evidence last month that a number of students — including some who don’t play football — had submitted papers and homework written by others.

The names of the other conspirators haven’t been dragged through the mud. They haven’t been splashed over the airwaves, blasted through cyberspace or plastered in newspapers. They have remained anonymous role players in what could become a major blow to Notre Dame’s prospects and reputation.

But they deserve as much contempt as the athletes.

Non-jocks might not have scholarships at risk, but they should be expelled, too, if that fate awaits the players. If one group is held out of extracurricular activities, the conspirators also should be prohibited. Whatever penalties are levied against students for accepting others’ work, the same should be applied to those providing said work.

But I understand if some young folks are a bit confused about the ethics in these situations.

Some adults are setting terrible examples.

It’s one thing if classmates share answers to help fellow students, especially the school’s athletes. What’s worse is officials administering bogus grades or creating fake classes to make life easier for athletes.

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