By: Nicole Magas, Opinions Editor
University is hard work. This is my fifth year flailing around on this mechanical bull of stress and self-imposed poverty, and with the current educational requirements of a tightening job market it likely won’t be my last. It’s difficult and frustrating. It requires stamina, dedication, and discipline. Sometimes it feels nigh on impossible.
But if some students aren’t mature enough to get through university without cheating their way out of the slog, maybe they should wait a few years before wasting the time and resources of students and faculty who are actually ready to put real effort into this crazy endeavor.
At the end of the exam cycle last semester, news broke of a student who had paid to have someone else take their exam. The RCMP subsequently arrested the paid test-taker for possession of forged documents — in other words, for claiming to be someone she’s not on official documents. While no charges were filed, the test-taker will still face legal ramifications over the incident.
While it may not seem like such a big deal if one student cheats themselves out of actually learning anything at university, academic dishonesty has some pretty serious ramifications for the rest of the SFU community. Cheating not only spits in the face of students who actually work hard for their grades, but it also skews class curves, devalues the worth of the degree, and tarnishes the reputation of the university and the students associated with it. Additionally, if not caught, cheating promotes a dangerous lack of ethical care and competency in future careers cheating students may enter.
And while these are all very good, objective reasons to both discourage and punish cheaters, I’d actually like to take a slightly lower road with this issue and just say the following to students who have cheated, continue to cheat, or are considering cheating:
Grow the fuck up.
You think university is hard on you? We’ve all been there. We all have our own personal horror stories of half-killing ourselves to scratch out a decent grade at this school. We may bitch and complain about this class or that professor. We whine about how our grades could have been better and vent to our friends about how frustrating it all is, but at the end of the day, honest students pull up our adult pants and we try harder. If you can’t deal with that, then get out of the deep end and go play in the kiddie pool.
Despite the tunnel vision that the university rat-race forces on us, this experience is about much more than one’s place on a GPA ladder. We’re actually supposed to be learning here. Learning not just how to craft essays or solve equations, but how to prioritize tasks, manage our time, and deal with the stress that comes with being an adult in this particular cultural and economic epoch. Cheating on an exam or a paper demonstrates that students are not even mature enough to handle cut and dry ethical decisions, let alone the complex responsibilities of adulthood.
But above all else, paying to cheat shows not only a critical lack of maturity, but a profound vice of laziness. Spend that money on a tutor if you’re struggling. Put the effort in and actually earn a grade, rather than buying one. Work for it like the rest of us, and own the grades you get. Learn from the grades you get, and be a better person for it.